Oppn parties to form key groups, discuss seat sharing & EVMs at 2nd meet

Opposition leaders will also discuss the process for deciding seat-sharing on a state-to-state basis in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and the issues of trust surrounding electronic voting machines (EVMs)

NEW DELHI | Updated: 17 July, 2023 1:54 pm IST
The second round of meeting will be led by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.

NEW DELHI: Led by Congress, more than two dozen Opposition parties look to set up some key political groups, discuss grounds for seat-sharing and the suspected tampering of EVMs at their second round of meeting in Bengaluru this week.

The second round of the meeting will be spearheaded by the Congress party. The first gathering, which took place in Patna last month, was presided over by Janata Dal (United) leader and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former chiefs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek, Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad, and NCP chief Sharad Pawar will be among key Opposition leaders attending the two-day summit which starts Monday evening.

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Setting up a sub-committee to draft the common minimum programme governing the proposed alliance for the next year’s general elections and a sub-committee for chalking out a joint programme of rallies, conventions and protests by different opposition parties is among the agenda items of the meeting.

Opposition leaders will also discuss the process for deciding seat-sharing on a state-to-state basis in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and the issues of trust surrounding electronic voting machines (EVMs). They will also try to arrive at a conclusion for the alliance’s name and setting up of a common secretariat for the mega bloc.

On Monday, the leaders will gather for a preliminary discussion and get-together for two hours between 6 pm and 8 pm which will be followed by a dinner hosted by Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah. They will brainstorm several aspects of the alliance between 11 am and 4 pm the next day.

The first meeting in Patna witnessed a cordial environment with leaders speaking their hearts and sharing light moments on June 23. The second round of the meeting was initially planned for Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, another Congress-ruled state, but the venue was later shifted to Bengaluru due to weather related concerns.

Following the meeting, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had stated, “Consensus was reached to fight the 2024 election together. The next meeting will be led by Mallikarjun Kharge. Discussions on the strategies, including the allocation of constituencies, will take place.”

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During the first meeting, Delhi CM Kejriwal sought support against the Delhi services ordinance which gave powers to the Central government over the state’s bureaucracy. All the parties, except Congress, extended their support to Kejriwal. The Delhi CM explicitly stated that the Aam Aadmi Party would not participate unless they gained Congress’s support.

However, Congress recently clarified its stand and backed Kejriwal.

Participating in the second meeting will be DMK, TMC, JDU, RJD, NCP, UBT, CPM, CPI, SP, NC, PDP, CPIML, JMM, AAP, Rashtriya Lok Dal, RLD, IUML, Kerala Congress (M), MDMK, VCK, RSP, Kerala Congress (Joseph), Kongunadu Makkal Desia Katchi (KMDK), All India Forward Bloc, Apna Dal (Kamerawadi), and Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK).

RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin, former J&K CMs Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, Uddhav Thackeray, Sanjay Raut, Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, and NK Premchandaran will be in participation.

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