In an epic showdown leading up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, a gathering of twenty-six opposition parties is set to convene today in Bengaluru, aiming to forge a unified front against the BJP. Responding to this challenge, the ruling party, with ambitions of displaying its might, has announced its own colossal assembly.
Here are 10 captivating facts about this monumental saga:
- Yesterday in Bengaluru, the 26 opposition leaders met to finalize the agenda for today’s discussions. Insider sources suggest that former UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi will be designated as the President of the Front, while Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will assume the role of Convenor.
- In a parallel event to the opposition’s unity gathering in Bengaluru, the BJP has invited a staggering 38 parties to attend their grand demonstration of strength in Delhi.
- The NDA gathering may witness the presence of several new allies, including the Shiv Sena led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the NCP faction led by Ajit Pawar. Other notable figures like Chirag Paswan, leader of the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), could also make an appearance at this mega gathering.
- Alongside Mrs. Gandhi, the opposition assembly in Bengaluru features prominent attendees such as Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi, Chief Ministers MK Stalin, Nitish Kumar, Arvind Kejriwal, Hemant Soren, Mamata Banerjee, and RJD Chief Lalu Prasad.
- “Our like-minded opposition parties will collaborate closely to advance an agenda of social justice, inclusive development, and national welfare. We aspire to liberate the people of India from the autocratic and anti-people politics of hatred, division, economic inequality, and plunder… Together we stand, for this India,” declared Mr. Kharge.
- BJP President JP Nadda alleges that opposition leaders are joining forces out of self-interest, seeking protection from corruption charges amounting to over ₹ 20 lakh crore (20 trillion rupees).
- “It is a ‘bhanumati ka kunba’ (a mixed group), an opportunistic alliance. It lacks an agenda, commitment, and vision. Their sole objective is to seize power and serve their own interests,” expressed Mr. Nadda, as quoted by the news agency PTI.
- Sources reveal that opposition parties have been asked to propose a name for their united front that incorporates the word “India.” The tagline “United We Stand” has been suggested. Additionally, input is being sought for the Common Minimum Programme, although the matter of individual states will be addressed separately.
- NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar and Janata Dal-Secular (JDS) leader HD Kumaraswamy did not attend the first day of the opposition meeting. While Mr. Pawar is en route to Bengaluru for the second day, it remains uncertain whether Mr. Kumaraswamy will attend the gathering. “All parties that possess the determination and courage to challenge the BJP are welcome,” stated Congress leader Pawan Khera.
- Meanwhile, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) led by Naveen Patnaik, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have yet to explicitly declare their support for either faction.