NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been taunting the Opposition of being a divided house but opposition parties on Friday used the farmers’ protest as a platform to come together. The Opposition leaders acknowledged that they may have differing views on several issues but added that they would stand together on the issues that matter.
Friday’s march was the first time the leaders found a common platform to come together publicly. The last such meeting was in May, 2018 during the swearing in ceremony of Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.
The leaders at the event included Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, Communist Party of India general secretary Sudhakar Reddy, Loktantrik Janata Dal chied Sharad Yadav, Dinesh Trivedi of the Trinamool Congress and Dharmedra Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, among others. A thaw in relations between Gandhi and Kejriwal was markedly visible as they shared the stage.
The protest march has set the ball rolling for more meetings of these leaders in run up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Sources privy to their discussions said the leaders are expected to meet again on December 10 in Delhi to chalk out future strategy with the winter session of parliament in mind. The session starts on December 11 and is likely to be the last full-fledged one before the general elections next year.
“The presence of opposition parties at a common platform today shows that parties are ready to mend their differences for cause of the people...” said one of the leaders. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu have met other opposition leaders several times to take the idea of anti-BJP grouping ahead. There were also efforts to cobble up an alliance for the ongoing Assembly elections in five states but it failed after seat-sharing negotiations between the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party flopped.