Bengaluru: Gearing up for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has rallied support from a total of 25 parties for the second Opposition Unity meeting in Karnataka's Bengaluru beginning on Monday. Leaders of at least 26 Opposition parties will converge at a hotel in Bengaluru on July 17-18 as part of their efforts to present a united front against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the Centre.
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister, DK Shivakumar, has been deputed as in-charge to monitor all the preparations for the meeting. Arrangements have been made for all the opposition leaders to stay at a five-star hotel in the city, party sources said.
As per a tentative schedule, on Monday, Congress General Secretary in-charge Communications, Jairam Ramesh, and Congress general secretary, KC Venugopal will hold a joint press conference at 11 am.
Opposition leaders will arrive for meeting at noon
And all the opposition leaders will start arriving for the meeting in the afternoon. An informal meeting is scheduled at 6 pm after which there will be dinner at 8 pm.
On July 18, the meeting will kick off at 11 am and will continue till 4 pm. Following this, there will be a press conference in which the campaign strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls may be announced.
According to sources, the name of the opposition alliance will be decided, and the common minimum program will be discussed in the Bengaluru meeting.
Moreover, several committees are expected to be formed which will hold meetings to deliberate on various problems that may arise in the alliance. Various groups and sub-groups may also be formed, they said.
Deliberations will be held on UCC
Sources said that a discussion may also be held on how to field a common opposition candidate on at least 80 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats against the BJP, how to have alliances in the states and how to distribute tickets at key constituencies.
"In the meeting, deliberations will also be held on Uniform Civil Code (UCC)," they added.
All bigwigs in the opposition, including former Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, along with Rahul Gandhi are expected to attend the crucial opposition meeting in Bengaluru.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also confirmed its presence at the meeting on Sunday. This came after the Congress made its stand clear and said that it will oppose the Centre's ordinance on administrative services in Delhi if a bill is brought to replace the ordinance in the Parliament.
Earlier, during the Opposition meeting in Bihar's Patna on June 23, a rift was seen between the AAP and the Congress, after the latter delayed its stand on the Centre's ordinance.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to come for the opposition meeting as well despite her leg injury, following former Congress president Sonia Gandhi's call.
Earlier in the Patna meeting, 16 opposition parties were invited, and 15 of them attended the meeting. Apart from the Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), All India Trinamool Congress (TMC), Janata Dal (United) (JDU), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Samajwadi Party.
Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Liberation (CPIML), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal were among the list of invitees for the Patna meeting.
Rashtriya Lok Dal Party chief Jayant Chowdhary who had earlier distanced himself from the Patna meeting is scheduled to attend the second meeting in Bengaluru on Monday.
Congress has invited 10 new parties
In addition to these, the Congress has invited 10 new parties to the second opposition meeting in Bengaluru to increase its tally over the NDA. These include Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Kongu Desa Makkal Katchi (KDMK), Forward Bloc, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Kerala Congress (Joseph), Kerala Congress (Mani), Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) and Tamil Nadu's Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK).
"Congress, the main host of this two-day meet, is trying to make it look grander than that called by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Patna on June 13," sources pointed out.
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