The attendance of Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal at the Opposition coalition INDIA's meeting in Mumbai on Friday apparently raised concerns among certain Congress leaders. Sources revealed that Sibal, who departed from the Congress party last year and received support from the Samajwadi Party for his Rajya Sabha seat, was not formally invited to the gathering.
Reportedly, senior Congress leader KC Venugopal expressed his displeasure regarding Sibal's unexpected presence to former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray while INDIA alliance leaders convened in Mumbai for the second and concluding day of the meeting.
Have no problem with anyone attending the meet, Rahul Gandhi said
As per reports, there was also unease among several leaders when Kapil Sibal participated in a photo session with the opposition bloc's leaders. Nevertheless, National Conference's Farooq Abdullah and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav reportedly engaged in discussions with KC Venugopal, who seemed to have changed his stance following Rahul Gandhi's viewpoint on the issue.
Reportedly, Gandhi conveyed that he had no objections to anyone attending the meeting.
In the end, Kapil Sibal joined the gathering of opposition leaders for a photo session.
What transpired at INDIA meet?
The INDIA bloc, during their meeting on Friday, reached a resolution to collectively contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections "to the best extent possible." They emphasized the swift initiation of seat-sharing negotiations in various states, fostering a spirit of compromise.
Amid speculations of early elections and the establishment of a panel to explore the concept of 'one nation, one election,' leaders from the opposition bloc made crucial decisions. They formed a 14-member coordination committee tasked with being the highest decision-making body of the alliance and commencing work on seat allocation.
In a resolution adopted at the meeting, the INDIA bloc affirmed their commitment to participate in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections together "to the extent possible." The resolution also underscored the immediate commencement of seat-sharing discussions across states with a cooperative approach.
The resolution further stated, "We, the INDIA parties, hereby resolve to organize public rallies at the earliest in different parts of the country on issues of public concern and importance."
Additionally, the INDIA parties resolved to coordinate their communication, media strategies, and campaigns under the theme 'Judega Bharat, Jeetega India' in various languages.
Sources indicate that seat-sharing arrangements will be finalized by September 30.
In the context of the government's formation of a committee to explore the possibility of "one nation, one election," Kharge, in a post on X, asserted that no matter how many "diversions and distractions" the ruling regime presents, the people will not be deceived any longer. He declared that the countdown for the exit of this "autocratic government" has begun.
The government established a committee led by former president Ram Nath Kovind to assess the feasibility of "one nation, one election," raising the prospect of advancing Lok Sabha polls to align with numerous state assembly contests.
During the opposition meeting, Kharge noted that the government is becoming "nervous" due to the strength of the opposition alliance. He advised INDIA bloc partners to be prepared for "vendetta politics" as there will be further "misuse" of agencies against them.
Kharge launched a direct criticism of the government, alleging that the "communal poison" spread by the BJP and RSS over the past nine years has now manifested in hate crimes against innocent train passengers and schoolchildren.
He appeared to refer to incidents where a railway police constable fatally shot passengers on a train last month and a schoolteacher in Muzaffarnagar instructed students to slap their Muslim classmate for not completing his homework.
In his opening statement, Kharge mentioned that the success of the previous meetings in Patna and Bengaluru can be gauged by the fact that the prime minister, in subsequent speeches, not only attacked INDIA but also "compared the name of our beloved country with a terrorist organization and a symbol of slavery."
He cautioned that the alliance should brace itself for more attacks, raids, and arrests due to the government's "vendetta politics." The more ground the alliance gains, the more the BJP government will allegedly misuse agencies against its leaders, he asserted.
Prominent leaders participating in the discussions include former Congress chiefs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray, West Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, and others.
National Conference's Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury, CPI's D Raja, CPI (ML) leader Dipankar Bhattacharya, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and SP president Akhilesh Yadav, Independent Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal, and RLD's Jayant Chaudhary are also among the attendees.
Prior to the meeting, all the INDIA bloc leaders gathered for a group photograph. Additionally, opposition alliance leaders passed a resolution applauding ISRO's successful launch of the Chandrayaan-3 mission and affirmed that it took six decades to build, expand, and enhance the space agency's capacities and capabilities.