Must forget differences, move forward together: Kejriwal tells Rahul
Amid confusion over the Congress stance on the Centre’s Delhi ordinance, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal told Rahul Gandhi to forget the differences and move forward together at the opposition meeting in Patna, AAP sources said on Saturday.
“Arvind Kejriwal spoke directly to Rahul Gandhi (on the ordinance matter) and said if there is any issue, they can resolve it over tea. In the opposition meeting on Friday (June 24), Kejriwal said there is a need to forget the differences and move forward together,” a party source said. Given the situation, he said that the AAP is yet to decide if it will attend the opposition parties’ next meeting scheduled in Shimla.
The plan of action is expected to be formulated at another meeting to be chaired by Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, tentatively on July 10 or 12, in Shimla. Drawing the battle lines, opposition parties had in the crucial meeting in Patna resolved to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) unitedly in 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
In a statement on Friday (June 24), the AAP had said that any alliance with the grand old party would be very difficult after its war of words over the contentious Delhi ordinance issue.
At the opposition meet in Patna, many parties urged the Congress to publicly denounce the “black ordinance” but the party refused to do so, which raised suspicions about its real intentions, the AAP had said in the statement soon after the meeting.
AAP sources claimed that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee at the meeting intervened and said Gandhi and Kejriwal should sit together for lunch so that all the issues get addressed. At the end of the meeting, Kharge alleged that a spokesperson of AAP was making wrong statements about the Congress, said the sources.
“In response, our national convener Arvind Kejriwal clearly stated that Congress spokespersons had also made misleading statements against AAP. Having said that, there is a need to forget the differences and come together,” the source added.
The source said that Rahul Gandhi stressed that there was a process to discuss about the contentious Delhi ordinance. “Kejriwal asked the Congress to specify the time for the next meeting, but the Congress leaders were non-responsive. All the top opposition leaders present during the meeting had urged the Congress to clarify its stand on the ordinance and fix a meeting to discuss the same,” the source said.
The AAP source also said that party chief Kejriwal specified that his party had always stood by the Congress in the right matters.
“Even when Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha membership was cancelled, Kejriwal had opposed it. If Gandhi and the Congress are afraid to meet AAP leaders, forging of opposition unity is doubtful. We have been constantly asking for an appointment with the leadership, but the Congress has refused to budge,” he said.
The AAP source also said that although the Kharge-led party has maintained that it has always raised its voice against any draconian law, it has so far remained mum on the Delhi ordinance issue.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and AAP’s Rajya Sabha MPs Sanjay Singh and Raghav Chaddh attended the opposition meeting at Patna, they remained conspicuous by their absence at the joint press conference held by the opposition parties.
The BJP took a potshot at the absence of Kejriwal at the opposition parties’ joint press conference in Patna and said that the AAPs “blackmailing” at the beginning of the meeting itself showed the future of the “unholy alliance”. Kharge, however, said that a decision on whether to oppose the Centre’s ordinance on the control of administrative services in Delhi would be taken before the Parliament session and wondered why it was being talked about elsewhere when the matter pertained to Parliament.
(With agency inputs)