NEW DELHI: The idea was to carry forward the opposition to demonetisation beyond Parliament. But, the ‘big brotherly’ attitude of the Congress, that had already created cracks in the ranks, may only go on to further widen the fault lines.
Even the possibility of Congress president Sonia Gandhi coming out to address the joint Opposition meeting and presser was not persuasive enough for others like JD(U), CPI(M), BSP and SP to join the force.
While JD(U) remained ambivalent, with KC Tyagi saying he may or may not join the Tuesday meeting, the CPI (M) was rather upset that the grand old party did not bother to discuss the agenda of the ‘joint Opposition meeting’. BSP and SP chose not say a word, either way. NCP is expected to depute someone in place of Tariq Anwar, who’s mother passed away.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tried to paper over the visible cracks by saying, ‘’Those who will join the meeting, will join. Those who won’t, will join later -- next meeting.’’
The hint being, the opposition unity is in the works. At the meeting, the adverse impact of demonetisation on the economy, as well as the alleged issue of ‘personal corruption’ against Prime Minister is expected to be discussed.
“The biggest issue today is demonetisation and the second issue is corruption by the Prime Minister, which will be the main issues before tomorrow’s meet,” Jairam Ramesh said. He, however, dismissed suggestions that tomorrow’s meeting was a “tea party” like the one in 1998 which ultimately led to the downfall of the Vajpayee government.
As a curtain raiser, Rahul Gandhi held a meeting of all Congress general secretaries and State Congress presidents at his residence on Monday to discuss the situation. The attempt at forging an Opposition unity with the Congress acting as a pivot was likened to Shimla conclave of 2003, which saw Congress pitching for the unity of secular forces to oust the then NDA government led by Vajpayee.
However, many of Opposition parties, including the UP satraps, the Left and even NCP were upset that Rahul Gandhi went off to meet Modi over the issue of farmers’ problems, especially in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. This came a day after Rahul was projected as the face of the Opposition with around 16 parties backing him in the attack against the government.
“We have decided to stay away from the press conference of Opposition parties convened by the Congress because there has been no proper consultation and coordination among parties,” CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in Kolkata on Monday. Their Bengal rival TMC will be taking part in the meeting.