The Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), which held its third conclave in Mumbai on Friday, continues to be a work in progress. Leaders of as many as 28 parties who held confabulations in the five-star ambience of the Grand Hyatt at Kalina failed not only to elect a convenor but also could not agree upon even a common logo.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was apparently so upset that she skipped the post-prandial press meet. One of the three resolutions passed said, "We, the INDIA parties, hereby resolve to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections together as far as possible." The expression "as far as possible" was a giveaway and revealed that the parties themselves are not sure if they will be able to face the electorate unitedly.
Even as Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena (UBT), who anchored the press conference, called out her name at the chandeliered grand ballroom of the hotel someone informed him that Didi had left for the airport. In an obvious bid to dilute the embarrassment, Jairam Ramesh of the Congress said some of the leaders had to leave since they had flights to catch. However, the FPJ learnt that Didi was scheduled to leave for Kolkata in the evening, but had her departure preponed. She was reportedly expecting to be made the convenor of the alliance, but since there was no consensus she felt disappointed, sources said. It is learnt that the Congress made it clear to the remaining 27 constituents that Sonia Gandhi should be elected as the convenor, but this suggestion did not find favour with others.
Rahul Gandhi's demand for JPC
It is learnt that Rahul Gandhi wanted the conclave to pass a resolution demanding a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the Gautam Adani group in the wake of the damning disclosure of round-tripping of one billion dollars by the business tycoon who is known for his proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, other participants did not want this to be a part of the agenda of the meeting which was held specifically with the general elections in mind.
On Thursday, Rahul Gandhi held a press conference before the start of the meeting where he slammed PM Modi for failing to order a probe into Adani's controversial activities. Given the sharp differences within the alliance, media persons were not allowed to ask even a single question even though Mr Raut had earlier promised that questions would be allowed. The opposition has been accusing PM Modi of not holding press conferences in the past nine years of his rule. But, on Friday, the opposition convened a press conference but did not let the assembled media persons ask any questions. The fear was that the media may ask some embarrassing questions and this would bring the differences out in the open.
According to Aaditya Thackeray of the Shiv Sena (UBT) two other resolutions were passed. One was about holding public rallies in different parts of the country "on issues of public concern and importance." The third was about coordination of respective communication and media strategies with the theme "Judega Bharat, Jitenga India."
Special session of Parliament
The decision of the Modi government on Thursday to convene a special session of Parliament later this month cast its deep shadow on the meeting. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge noted that the decision was taken by Modi without consulting the business advisory committee or the opposition. ``Like so many other decisions, this was also taiken unilaterally. This showed the dictatorial mindset of Modi," he observed. Even though the agenda of the parliamentary session has not been communicated by the government, the aim appears to be to introduce a law for “one nation, one election.” The government has already appointed a committee headed by former President Ramnath Kovind to examine the issue.
Rahul Gandhi claimed that the BJP was rattled with as many as 28 opposition parties coming together. These parties represent 60 per cent of the population of the country. “If we unite, it will be impossible for the BJP to come back to power," he observed but admitted that certain differences still persisted within the alliance and hoped that they would be ironed out expeditiously.
Gandhi again slammed PM Modi
Gandhi again slammed PM Modi for helping and shielding his business tycoon friend Gautam Adani. He said in the credibility of the PM and the country Modi should order a probe before the G20 summit. Mr Gandhi said during his week-long visit to Ladakh recently, he interacted with several local people, including shepherds, who informed him that the Chinese have encroached on a vast area of Indian territory.
“The PM is lying. India is betrayed. It is most shameful," he asserted. Gandhi, who was sitting next to Sharad Pawar, hardly exchanged any words. His body language made it clear that he was upset with the NCP leader for opposing a JPC probe earlier.