Opposition parties unlikely to ink common minimum programme at Patna meet
Some opposition parties are not comfortable with the idea of a common minimum programme when there are no seat pacts between the constituents at national level
New Delhi: The meeting of opposition parties in Patna scheduled on June 23 will try to identify common issues and prepare a joint statement on the purpose of their unity, but a formal common minimum programme (CMP) might not happen anytime soon, functionaries of various political outfits said.
Some key opposition parties are not comfortable with the idea of a CMP at this stage, when there are no formal seat pacts or alliances between the opposition constituents at the national level. Also, three leaders argued that a CMP is usually inked after an election. Media reports suggested that Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar might be asked to draft a CMP.
“We have decided on three things. The date, the venue and that heads of the opposition parties will attend the meeting. We will decide the date and venue of the next meeting on June 23. Beyond this, if anyone wants to jump the gun, it will not be advisable,” said Trinamool Congress party’s Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien.
The Congress, TMC and the Left Parties are not comfortable with the idea of a CMP at this stage, opposition functionaries said, declining to be named. In 2004, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and the Left parties negotiated on a CMP after the results were declared.
“Common issues can be identified to fight against the BJP government,” a Left leader said. “But a formal CMP will not be acceptable to many at this stage.”
“We will find common ground and pick up pro-people issues in the Patna meeting for a national-level unity,” a Congress strategist said. “But a CMP has never been made before an election.”
The opposition parties are discussing a declaration of intent, which can come in the shape of a joint statement of the participants, which will incorporate key issues such as federalism, misuse of investigating agencies, alleged assault on constitution, the Delhi ordinance curbing the power of the elected government and price rise, among other issues.
“This statement will form the basis of the opposition unity. The issues might lead to formation of a CMP when the time comes,” said a second non-Congress leader.
In the Patna meeting, the parties will also decide the date and the venue of the next meeting. “The next meeting is likely to be held either in Shimla or Chennai,” another leader said.
“We are discussing a declaration of intent by all the participants that will speak of securing the character of a secular and democratic India,” another senior leader said. “We also want to highlight how the supremacy of Indian Constitution have been mercilessly assaulted and why we have to stand in defence of India and all its people.”
The first leader claimed that contentious issues such as the proposal to put up a common opposition candidate in at least 400-450 seats against the Bharatiya Janata Party will be discussed in another meeting.
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