Oppn leaders meet in Delhi

Oppn leaders meet in Delhi

DMK president M K Stalin invites Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for the inauguration ceremony of the statue of M Karunanidhi in Chennai on Monday. DMK party leaders M K Kanimozhi, A Raja and T R Balu are also seen. PTI

Top leaders from 21 Opposition parties on Monday vowed to unseat Narendra Modi government from power in the next Lok Sabha elections after a "productive" meeting here where they arrived at a common ground to coordinate among themselves inside and outside Parliament.

Though Samajwadi Party and BSP chose not to attend the meeting taking some sheen away, Opposition had reasons to cheer as AAP participated for the first time in a joint strategy meeting with its chief Arvind Kejriwal being present as both his party and Congress decided to keep their political animosity away.

The meeting had its share of drama as the leaders received the news of RBI Governor Urjit Patel's resignation while discussing the contours of a joint programme to take on the Modi government on charges of destroying institution and indulging in corruption like Rafale deal.

"We had a productive meeting...There was a consensus to stop BJP's assault on our institutions be it CBI, RBI or the Election Commission. There is consensus that the BJP's corruption on Rafale, demonetisation and other areas are not simply unacceptable. There is a consensus that we are going to work together to defeat the BJP-RSS," Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who was flanked by Opposition leaders, told reporters after the two-hour meeting

To questions about the absence of SP and BSP, Gandhi said this was a "process" and it was carried out in an "open, friendly and respectful manner". He said, "these are the voices of Opposition. We respect every single one regardless how big or small they are."

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu also echoed him saying there are "two-three parties outside and we want to persuade them to join us".

Sources said some of the leaders like Mamata Banerjee and Tejashwi Yadav were in favour of a national electoral alliance. Parties like DMK and NCP too supported such an idea with Congress as an anchor while CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said state-level alliances were the best option at present and there was a need to work out state-level alliances and understanding.

Yechury is also learnt to have told the meeting that always alternative secular alliances were formed post elections in India and one should not forget the differing ground realities in states.

Sources said Yadav was of the view that Congress should be given "driving seat" in the alliance and the primacy should be on pre-poll alliance.

The meeting decided to continue consultations and decide on when to approach President Ram Nath Kovind on the latest RBI developments, which they believe is government's efforts to get hold of part of the reserves to fund its schemes ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

There was speculation that RSLP chief Upendra Kushwaha, who resigned from the NDA government to join hands with Opposition hours before, would attend the meeting but he did not. When asked, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “not all (things happen) in one day.”

The meeting was attended by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference's Farooq Abdullah, LJD's Sharad Yadav and CPI's D Raja among others.

DMK chief M K Stalin also had his first appearance in a joint Opposition strategy meeting. Earlier, DMK was represented by Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi or another leader.

Earlier in the day, Stalin also met Kejriwal and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar to invite them to the unveiling of M Karunanidhi's statue in Chennai on December 16. Sources said Stalin suggested to Kejriwal that he should not belligerent with his adversarial relationship with Congress.

Naidu also met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Abdullah.