Bengaluru: The opposition front comprising 26 parties has a new name: INDIA, which stands for Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance. All 26 parties have mutually agreed to this new name for one of the largest opposition fronts since independence.
The name was agreed upon at the opposition parties’ second meeting held in Bengaluru on July 18. The first meeting was held in Patna on June 23.
Sources told The Wire that there were some reservations regarding having the word ‘alliance’ in the new name, given the uncertainty over seat sharing in a few states, but eventually agreed to the term to send a message that all the parties have common ideological concerns against the ruling BJP.
INDIA, opposition leaders believe, will assert the front’s conviction to “safeguard democracy, constitution, and diversity” – the stated goal of the opposition front.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge is believed to have been instrumental in convincing the few parties which had some reservations about the name to come on board.
I am happy that 26 parties are present in Bengaluru to work unitedly.
Together, we are in government in 11 states today.
The BJP did not get 303 seats by itself. It used the votes of its allies and came to power and then discarded them.
The BJP President and their leaders are… pic.twitter.com/LyEkcmQi82
— Mallikarjun Kharge (@kharge) July 18, 2023
In a tweet, Kharge indicated that a majority of the differences were largely ironed out during the opposition summit in Bengaluru. He hit out at the parallel NDA meeting in New Delhi and said that the opposition resolve to unitedly take on the BJP in 2024 has forced the BJP to “patch up” with its older allies that it had deserted earlier.
Addressing the press after the four-hour long meeting, Kharge who also chaired the discussions on Tuesday, said that the name for the opposition front was agreed upon by every party unanimously after discussions and reflects the larger philosophy behind the “coming together” of the opposition parties. “This was a very important meeting to save democracy and our Constitution. We have all come together in the interests of the Indian people,” he said, while elaborating on how diverse political parties, despite their differences, have joined ranks.
A majority of the leaders were present at the stage, barring the Bihar and Kashmir leaders like Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, who rushed to catch their flights soon after the meeting got over.
Kharge also said that while a name for the alliance was decided in Bengaluru, a third such meeting of the 26 parties will soon take place in Mumbai where remaining details will be finalised.
“A 11-member coordination committee will be set up in Mumbai…A central secretariat will also be set up for campaign management and joint rallies and action there. The secretariat will work out of Delhi,” Kharge said.
The 11-member coordination committee will be representative of all parties and will decide the future course of electoral and political strategy including communication points, joint rallies, seat-sharing and other such aspects of the opposition front. Kharge added that the front will choose its president and convenor at the Mumbai meeting.
He emphasised that the leaders have not come together for power or to “attain something” but to “save democracy”.
“Our leaders have shown that they can come together to protect the interests of Indian people,” he said.
The opposition front also adopted a joint resolution that deftly accommodates the political agendas of different participants. It raises concerns over alleged attacks on India’s federal structure, Modi government’s alleged failures on the economic front, and misuse of gubernatorial offices and central investigation agencies – a criticism that parties like the Congress, DMK, TMC and AAP have constantly been raising. It hits out on the increasing attacks on Dalits, Adivasis and working classes, farmers and farm labourers – a point that is integral to the politics of parties like VCK in Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Left parties that are part of the INDIA front.
At the same time, the resolution pledged to advocate for a pan-Indian caste census that has been raised by socialist parties like SP, RJD and JD(U).
The way the resolution has accommodated varied political interests of both national and regional parties is reflective of the unprecedented unity that the opposition leaders, many of whom have been traditional rivals, have achieved in a few months.
The resolution also shows the flexibility and resolve that each opposition party has shown in trying to forge a united front.
All the other four leaders – Uddhav Thackeray, Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi – who spoke after Kharge highlighted that the opposition’s fight against BJP will be along ideological lines.
“We have taken up this challenge. BJP, can you challenge INDIA?” Banerjee asked.
Kejriwal and Thackeray spoke about how INDIA will be a joint challenge of democratic people to the authoritarian ways of the Modi government. Kejriwal said that the front will highlight how the Modi government has snatched away people’s resources to distribute it among a few rich people, even as the prime minister has failed to deliver on every front over the last nine years.
Thackeray exhorted people “not to fear” the Modi government anymore. “We are here. Don’t fear anything,” he said.
At the end, Rahul Gandhi asserted: “Our fight is against BJP’s ideology and its thinking. We have named our front INDIA because our India is under attack and we realised that the fight is not between two political formations. The fight is between two different ideas of India.”
Read the full text of the opposition resolution adopted on Tuesday below:
We, the undersigned leaders of India’s 26 progressive parties, express our steadfast resolve to safeguard the idea of India as enshrined in the Constitution. The character of our republic is being severely assaulted in a systematic manner by the BJP. We are at a most crucial juncture in our nation’s history. The foundational pillars of the Indian Constitution – secular democracy, economic sovereignty, social justice and federalism – are being methodically and menacingly undermined.
We express our grave concern over the humanitarian tragedy that has destroyed Manipur. The silence of the Prime Minister is shocking and unprecedented. There is an urgent need to bring Manipur back on the path of peace and reconciliation.
We are determined to combat and confront the continuing assault on the Constitution and on constitutional rights of democratically elected state governments. There is a deliberate attempt to weaken the federal structure of our polity. The role of Governors & LGs in non-BJP ruled states has exceeded all constitutional norms. The brazen misuse of agencies by the BJP government against political rivals is undermining our democracy. Legitimate needs, requirements and entitlements of non BJP ruled states are being actively denied by the Centre.
We reinforce our resolve to confront the grave economic crisis of ever-rising prices of essential commodities and record unemployment. Demonetisation brought with it untold misery to the MSME and unorganised sectors, resulting in large scale unemployment among our youth. We oppose the reckless sale of the nation’s wealth to favored friends. We must build a fair economy with a strong and strategic public sector as well as a competitive and flourishing private sector, in which the spirit of enterprise is fostered and given every opportunity to expand. The welfare of Kisan and Khet Mazdur should always get the highest priority.
We have come together to defeat the hatred and violence being manufactured against minorities; stop the rising crimes against women, Dalits, Adivasis and Kashmiri Pandits; demand a fair hearing for all socially, educationally and economically backward communities; and, as a first step, implement the Caste Census.
We resolve to fight the systemic conspiracy by BJP to target, persecute and suppress our fellow Indians. Their poisonous campaign of hate has led to vicious violence against all those opposed to the ruling party and its divisive ideology. These attacks are not only violating constitutional rights and freedoms but also eroding the basic values upon which the Republic of India is founded – Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and Justice – Political, Economic and Social. The repeated attempts by the BJP to vitiate public discourse by reinventing and rewriting Indian history are an affront to social harmony.
We pledge to present to the nation an alternative political, social and economic agenda. We promise to transform both the substance and style of governance that will be more consultative, democratic and participative.