Congress president Sonia Gandhi will lead a united Opposition march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday to protest against the government’s land acquisition ordinance .
Her decision to up the ante on the legislation virtually rules out any chance of reconciliation between the government and the Opposition with regard to the contentious bill.
This is the first time Sonia has undertaken this sort of political march — taking on a larger role in Opposition unity. Along with the Congress, the CPI(M), Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, JD(U) and some other parties will participate in the march. The Congress chief will march with leaders of at least 10 parties. The march is being coordinated by JD-U President Sharad Yadav.
The Opposition march against the land bill will start from Parliament and go to Rashtrapati Bhavan to submit a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee against the land ordinance. Sonia and some senior leaders will also meet the President. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh is also expected to take part in the protest.
The Congress president, according to sources, took “keen interest” in the march against the legislation. On Monday, she spent time talking to Opposition leaders in Central Hall of Parliament to personally ensure their participation. “She met me and asked if we are participating in the march on Tuesday,” senior Trinamool MP Saugata Roy told HT.
Sonia’s key aide Ahmed Patel and leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad also reached out to opposition leaders.
Tuesday’s march also signals Congress’ bid to take the lead in the fragmented Opposition space against the BJP. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is anti-farmer, anti-democracy and pro-investors. We will fight this government tooth and nail,” said senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, a key force behind the UPA’s pro-farmer land law, is still not back in Delhi. A section of the Congress feels that in the absence of her son, Sonia perhaps felt an added responsibility to lead the march.