Bengaluru Oppn Meet Live | Its official: INDIA Vs NDA in 2024 Lok Sabha polls

Bengaluru Oppn Meet Live | It's official: INDIA Vs NDA in 2024 Lok Sabha polls

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The former United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has got a new name to take on the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge confirmed at the press meet held after Tuesday’s (July 18) grand Opposition meeting that the alliance will be called I-N-D-I-A, an acronym for Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance.

Earlier, in his opening remarks at the joint Opposition meeting in Bengaluru, Kharge said his party’s push for Opposition unity and hosting the conclave was not to secure power or bag the Prime Minister’s post for the Congress, but to ensure the BJP’s defeat to protect democracy, constitutional values, social justice, and secularism.

Kharge conceded that some of the parties present at the meeting, including the Congress, have differences with each other at the state level due to conflicting interests, but argued that these were not ideological differences and, therefore, all these parties needed to look beyond such differences in the larger interest of the country and come together to defeat the BJP.

The second leg of the two-day meeting began around 12.15 pm on Tuesday after a delay, as Kharge, Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and party leader Rahul Gandhi went to pay their last respects to former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who passed away in Bengaluru on Tuesday morning.

Among those who are attending the meeting are Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi; Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief MK Stalin and party MP TR Baalu; West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee; Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and party MP Ram Gopal Yadav; Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, and AAP MPs Raghav Chadha and Sanjay Singh; Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar; JD(U) National President Rajeev Ranjan (Lalan) Singh and Bihar minister-party leader Sanjay Kumar Jha; RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav and party MP Manoj; Jharkhand CM and JMM executive president Hemant Soren, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and CPI General Secretary D Raja.

Modi’s barb

Even as the Opposition leaders started arriving for the meet around 11.30 am, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a dig at them: “People of the country say this is a ‘Kattar Bhrashtachar Sammelan’ (corruption meet).

He added, “Today, people of the country have already decided to bring us back in 2024. So, people who are responsible for the plight of India have opened their shops…24 ke liye 26 hone waale rajnaitik dalon par ye bada fit baithta hai (this applies to the political parties that have become 26 [number of parties] for 24 [implying 2024 Lok Sabha polls]). They are singing some song but the reality is something else. The label is of something, but the product is someone else’s.”

On the other hand, JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy accused the Congress government in Karnataka of introducing “IAS bonded labour policy” by deputing 30 IAS officers to serve the alliance leaders’ meeting. In a series of tweets, the former chief minister wrote, “IAS officers are symbols of a state’s ability and efficiency, and deputing these officials as ‘door keepers’ to serve politicians is in clear violation of All India Services (Conduct) Rules.”

Sharing a list of the names of IAS officers hosting the political leaders attending the meeting, Kumaraswamy wrote, “This is neither a state government programme, nor the swearing-in ceremony of a new government. It is just a political meeting. Deputing responsible officers to host its alliance political leaders is a grave injustice done to 6.5 crore Kannadigas and a great insult to the state.”

What’s on agenda?

After the first leg of the second round of Opposition unity meetings on Monday, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge sounded upbeat as he tweeted, “Well begun is half done!” The first meeting of the Opposition parties was held in Patna on June 23.

With the slogan “United We Stand” ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the Opposition leaders are likely to finalise the name of their alliance during the deliberations on Tuesday, issue a joint declaration, and finalise a committee for the functioning of the group.

They are also likely to announce two sub-committees, one for finalising the common minimum programme along with communication points, and the other for chalking out a joint opposition programme of events, rallies, and conventions.

The issue of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), which was discussed on Monday, is again likely to be talked about on Tuesday. State-wise seat-sharing and ironing out differences among regional outfits are also on the agenda, the sources said.

Sonia Gandhi may be named the president of the Opposition front and Nitish Kumar the convener, sources said.

The Manipur issue was also discussed on Monday and the need for sending an all-party delegation to the violence-hit state stressed upon.

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