New Delhi: On the evening of Modi government’s last full budget, the opposition hold a ‘united front’ in Parliament. The Opposition parties’ leaders led by Congress met on Thursday evening to discuss the Union Budget, the floor strategy for the ongoing Budget Session as well as issues that will later be used to corner the government for the rest of the session.
The meeting of Opposition leaders has been chaired by UPA president Sonia Gandhi. The meeting took place in the Parliament Library Building. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Sing, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, Gulam Nabi Azad, Sarad Pawar , Faruq Abdulla, RJD leader Misha Bharati and Joyprakash Narayan Yadav and Derek O’brien from TMC.
Presiding over a meeting of 17 non-NDA parties in Parliament, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on Thursday called for Opposition unity on issues of national importance. “We should altogether adopt a common approach and strategy both inside and outside Parliament,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad quoted Ms. Gandhi as saying.
While almost all the major Opposition parties were in attendance, the Bahujan Samaj Party was a notable absentee. The Aam Aadmi Party was not invited. Thursday’s meeting came three days after Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar hosted a tea party for Opposition leaders at his residence.
Since Rahul Gandhi’s takeover as the Congress chief, other parties such as the Trinamool Congress and the NCP have been stressing the proven leadership of their leaders like Mamata Banerjee and Mr. Pawar. Soon after Ms. Gandhi, Mr. Pawar spoke, and flagged issues such as “the attack on the Constitution, allowing foreign direct investment to the detriment of Indian businesses and pushing for simultaneous elections”.
The communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj also figured at the meeting. “We have to be very careful as far as the ideology of hate is concerned, and there are rampant incidents of violence across the country on caste and religious lines. Constitutional institutions are being undermined,” Ms. Gandhi said.
Mr. Rahul Gandhi, who spoke towards the end of the two-and-half hour meeting, said the Opposition parties may have differences in the States but at the Centre they had a common aim to defeat the BJP. Important economic issues such as inflation, high fuel prices, unemployment and farm distress were discussed. Opposition leaders have congratulated National Indian Congress on the grand victory in Rajasthan bypoll.