Will work together, says Rahul Gandhi after opposition rally
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal and Congress president Rahul Gandhi were seen together for the first time at a meeting.india Updated: Feb 13, 2019 23:50 IST
Top Opposition leaders met in the capital on Wednesday and agreed to work together on the basis of a common minimum programme in an attempt to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the national polls due this summer.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal and Congress president Rahul Gandhi were seen together for the first time at the meeting. AAP and Congress have been bitter rivals since Kejriwal came to power in Delhi in 2015.
Gandhi later told reporters that Opposition leaders agreed to put in place a common minimum programme. “We will work together to defeat the BJP,” he said after the meeting held at Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar’s residence.
Kejriwal called the talks constructive and said the Opposition will work together.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who earlier in the day told an Opposition leaders’ rally that her Trinamool Congress (TMC) may be fighting the Left and Congress in her state but she would stand together with them at the national level, called the meeting “fruitful”. She added, “We will do a pre-poll alliance.”
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu said there was a democratic compulsion to save India while Farooq Abdullah of the National Conferences termed the meeting “good”.
The meeting came hours after Banerjee, for the first time, said she was open to working electorally with the Congress and arch-rival, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), in the national polls.
“Congress, CPM will fight against us in Bengal but will be together nationally,” Banerjee said at the rally at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.
She said the situation in the country was worse than during the state of emergency imposed in the 1970s when the civil liberties were curbed. “What will [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi do? Send me to jail, set agencies on us or murder us? We are not the ones to be afraid.”
Banerjee led a sit-in last week against the Centre after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) swooped on Kolkata police commissioner’s home as part of a probe into Ponzi schemes.
The standoff dovetailed with attempts by the BJP ito make inroads into West Bengal, which has the most Lok Sabha seats – 42 – after Uttar Pradesh (80) and Maharashtra (48).
Kejriwal, who led the rally, said: “The reason (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi sent the CBI to Bengal was to ensure that every police officer in the country fears only Modi and not chief ministers. Modi has attacked Delhi too. Who attacks Delhi or Bengal? Only Pakistan. Is Modi Pakistan’s Prime Minister?”.
Naidu said they were ready to defeat the government. “Narendra Modi will be an ex-prime minister soon,” he said.
Banerjee said whoever is strong wherever should fight in their areas. “This way we will throw them out. The AAP should fight in Delhi, Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance in Uttar Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra,” Banerjee said. “We tell the Congress if you are strong in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, you should fight there. But where we are strong, do not let the BJP win,’’ she said.
The other prominent Opposition leaders who attended the rally included Congress’s Anand Sharma, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Kanimozhi, Farooq Abdullah, former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, Pawar and Janata Dal (Secular) leader Danish Ali.
Political analyst Badri Narayan Tiwari of the Allahabad University said Banerjee’s announcement regarding her willingness to work with the Left and Congress will certainly create some new combinations of Opposition votes. “They can go on to create a formidable alliance.”
(With PTI inputs)
First Published: Feb 13, 2019 23:50 IST