'Rise Above Compulsions': Sonia Gandhi's Oppn Unity Pitch for 2024 Elections
'The ultimate goal is 2024 elections for which we have to plan systematically,' Gandhi said at the Opposition meet.
Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi, at a meeting with leaders of 18 other Opposition parties on Friday, 20 August, made a strong pitch for Opposition unity ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, calling it "the ultimate goal" for which "we have to begin to plan systematically with the single-minded objective of giving to our country a government that believes in the values of the Freedom Movement and in the principles and provisions of our Constitution."
"This is a challenge, but together we can and must rise to it because there is simply no alternative to working cohesively together. We all have our compulsions, but clearly, a time has come when the interests of our nation demand that we rise above them," Gandhi said in her opening remarks at the meeting held virtually.
'Monsoon Session a Complete Washout Due to Govt's Obstinance'
Referring to the recently-concluded Monsoon Session of Parliament, the Congress President called it a "complete washout... entirely due to the Government's obstinate and arrogant unwillingness to discuss and debate urgent issues of public importance."
Among the issues she referred were the Pegasus snooping row, the protests against farm laws, the price rise of essential commodities and the "assault on federalism and institutions of our democracy".
"In spite of this, the session was marked by the determined unity that all Opposition parties demonstrated for over twenty days in both the houses... It was entirely due to the Opposition parties that the Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed to restore the long-standing rights of states to identify and notify OBCs."Sonia Gandhi
Expressing confidence that the unity will continue in future sessions of the Parliament, Gandhi went to point out, "But the larger political battle has to be fought outside it," referring to the impending general elections.
Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray Part of the Meeting
Among those part of the meeting on Friday were Trinamool Congress' Mamata Banerjee, NCP's Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray, National Conference's Farooq Abdullah, DMK's MK Stalin, JMM's Hemant Soren, CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury and Loktantrik Janata Dal's Sharad Yadav.
The other parties, whose representatives were participating in the meeting, included CPI, RJD, AIUDF, JD(S), RLD, RSP, Kerala Congress (M), PDP, IUML and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi.
Meanwhile, a senior TMC leader was quoted as saying, "Mamata Banerjee urges opposition parties to keep aside differences and work together to defeat BJP in 2024 LS polls", news agency PTI reported.
Banerjee has also proposed a core group of opposition leaders to decide on joint programmes and movements.
"Let us forget who is the leader, let us keep our personal interests aside. Every opposition party should be brought in. People are the leader," a senior TMC leader quoted her as saying at the meeting, PTI reported.
Past Opposition Meetings
Earlier, during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had met with several leaders of Opposition over breakfast.
Meanwhile, party leader Kapil Sibal – who is part of the so-called Group of 23 which had written to Sonia Gandhi calling for sweeping changes in the party – had hosted a dinner party on 9 August, which was attended by top Opposition leaders.
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