Air strike to dominate Opposition meet on Wednesday

People burn an effigy depicting Pakistan as they celebrate after Indian authorities said their jets conducted airstrikes on militant camps in Pakistani territory, in Ahmedabad, India, February 26, 2019. REUTERS

The meeting of Opposition parties on Wednesday to chalk out a common strategy for the Lok Sabha elections is likely to be dominated by the discussions on the air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir and how to ensure that the Narendra Modi government does not take leverage out of it.

With the Pulwama terror strike attack on February 14 and the subsequent air strike on Tuesday, the Opposition parties will have to tweak their strategy as the ruling BJP is in all likelihood use the "revenge" as an election issue. Opposition in one voice has welcomed the air strike and congratulated the Air Force in successfully carrying it out.
 

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A fortnight ago, a section of Opposition leaders had decided to meet in the month-end to discuss a pre-poll alliance at national level and a draft common minimum programme (CMP) in a bid to present a united electoral fight against Modi-led BJP, prompting Left parties to indicate that they would not attend it.

However, sources said, there is a broad agreement to sidestep the contentious issues of pre-poll alliance and CMP during Wednesday's agreement. Left parties said they would now be attending the meeting.

Top Opposition sources said the terror strike and the strikes on terror camps will be discussed on a priority during Wednesday's deliberations where top leaders of Congress, including its president Rahul Gandhi, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, NCP's Sharad Pawar, CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury, TDP's Chandrababu Naidu and AAP's Arvind Kejriwal among others are expected to attend.

While supporting the government action, Opposition sources said they would have to highlight the failures of the government in its Kashmir policy.

“Modi's Kashmir policy in the last five years has led to Pathankot, Uri and now Pulwama. They said they will stop all terrorism. Your own Governor is saying there was intelligence failure. These things have to be highlighted. These things need to be accounted for,” a top Opposition leader told DH.

Opposition leaders gave an indication of their line of action when some of the leaders told an all-party meeting that the government should keep in mind the internal situation in the state and should not rake up contentious issues like Article 35(A) and Article 370 of the Constitution.

The Opposition parties believe that Modi would raise the pitch on nationalism and the air strike during the coming days. For the Opposition, sources said, the need of the hour is to counter his narrative while not sounding they are against the measures taken against terrorists and Pakistan, which India holds responsible for exporting terror to the country.

Sources said one of the challenges before the Opposition parties will be to ensure that the issues of unemployment, agrarian crisis and allegations of corruption like in the Rafale deal is not put into back burner. Leaders are likely to discuss ways to counter the BJP strategy on using the air strikes to further their stock in the election. 

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Air strike to dominate Opposition meet on Wednesday

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