The stage is set for the highly anticipated Opposition meeting in Patna scheduled for Friday, June 23. The meeting, which will see participation from parties across the country, aims to forge a strong Opposition to challenge the BJP in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is the de facto chief of the Janata Dal United (JDU), is hosting the meeting.
Preparations have been in full swing with posters of Opposition leaders, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab CM Bhagwat Mann, Samajwadi Party chief, and former Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav having been put up around the city.
The Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar, Tamil Nadu CM Stalin, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Uddhav Thackeray, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, and People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti, and other Opposition party leaders will be attending the Patna meeting.
Here are the top highlights leading up to the Opposition meeting:
Kejriwal Calls Upon Opposition Leaders on Centre's Ordinance in Parliament
Arvind Kejriwal has urged the Opposition leaders to prioritise discussions about defeating the Centre's ordinance in Parliament at the Patna meeting.
In a letter, he expressed his concern saying Delhi's ordinance was an "experiment" and if successful, the central government might attempt to replicate it to curtail the rights of non-BJP governed state governments through similar ordinances.
He has urged the Congress to clarify its stance on the issue, which he maintains is the Centre's attempt to undermine the Constitution.
"Just because it has been implemented in Delhi, often considered a "half-state," doesn't mean it cannot be implemented in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, West Bengal, and other states. By promulgating such ordinances, the Centre can undermine all matters falling within the concurrent list of the Constitution of India."Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal
TMC's National General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee to Accompany Mamata Banerjee to Patna
In a report by The Telegraph, it was confirmed that Abhishek Banerjee, Lok Sabha MP and national general secretary of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), will accompany West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to Patna for the Opposition meeting.
The report said that the decision was finalised by Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday.
According to the report, party sources said the West Bengal CM's decision to have Abhishek Banerjee, her nephew, accompany her to the grand event corroborates with her apparent efforts over the past couple of years to project him nationally.
BJP Leader Sushil Kumar Modi Claims Patna Meet Is for 'Congress-Mukht Bharat'
Sushil Kumar Modi, BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP, claimed that the Opposition meeting in Patna has been organised for a "Congress-mukht Bharat" (Congress-free India), in a statement to reporters on Wednesday, 21 June.
"I want to make a point here that Mamata Banerjee does not want to contest the Lok Sabha elections with the Congress party. If the Trinamool Congress will contest only in West Bengal, then the Congress will be wiped out from there. Similarly, Arvind Kejriwal has been asked by the Congress not to contest in Delhi and Punjab."Sushil Kumar Modi to reporters
He claimed that other states like Telangana and Uttar Pradesh are echoing the same ideas, and suggested that the meet is an effort by the regional parties to eliminate the Congress.
Lalu Prasad Calls on Nitish Kumar in Patna
Just two days before the Opposition meeting in Patna, RJD President Lalu Prasad called on Bihar Chief Minister and JDU chief Nitish Kumar at the CM's residence in the state capital on Wednesday night.
According to a report by IANS, sources claim that Kumar is reportedly unwell. Lalu Prasad paid him a visit to check on his health status.
PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti Arrives in Patna
PDP chief and former Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti arrived in Patna on Thursday, 22 June – the first Opposition leader to arrive for the meeting. She reached the Patna Airport in the morning and went to the state guest house located near Raj Bhawan.
The PDP chief is scheduled to meet Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RLD chief Lalu Prasad later in the day.
Opposition Not Enthused by Mayawati's Attack on BJP
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati's sudden launch of a scathing attack on the BJP has not enthused the Opposition parties, that will meet in Patna on Friday to chalk out a strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
At a party meeting on Wednesday, Mayawati had said that the BJP's politics focused on issues like 'love jihad', 'land jihad', razing of 'mazars', religious conversions, inquiry of 'madrasas', 'hijab', bulldozers and hate speeches which were meant to incite communal frenzy.
"Her outburst against the BJP at a party meeting cannot be taken seriously because she is known to blow-hot-blow-cold at regular intervals where the BJP is concerned," said a Samajwadi Party (SP) leader.
He said that the BSP's attack on BJP could be a fallout of the recent 216 Noida flat scam that was exposed by the media.
BJP Puts Up Posters Targeting Opposition Leaders
As a counter to the Opposition, the BJP put up its own posters targeting prominent leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Nitish Kumar, and Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Several posters, which the saffron party put up at its Patna headquarters, carried the title "Thugs of India".
One of the posters has a cartoon of Nitish Kumar pointing his finger towards Lalu Prasad with the accompanying slogan: "Mitti Me mil jayenge lekin inke sath nahi jayege" ("We will dissolve in the soil but will not support them").
Another poster has cartoons of Nitish Kumar and Rahul Gandhi with Tejashwi Yadav holding a banner which says, "Lok Tantra Ko Bachane Ke Liye Hamara Adhyay Suru Kar Dijiye" ("Start our lesson on how to save democracy").
(With inputs from IANS.)