Opposition united in 'black protest', meet at Congress Chief Kharge's house to take on BJP
NEW DELHI: As a united Opposition intensified its protests on Monday, Parliament saw another day of chaos and adjournment on the third week of the Budget session.
Wearing black clothes, at least 18 Opposition parties including TMC marched from Parliament to Vijay Chowk to mark their protest against the disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from Parliament and reiterate their demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the allegations surrounding the Adani Group.
In the evening, 18 parties attended a dinner meeting called by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge to discuss future strategies to counter the government on the Adani issue and to sustain the momentum of Opposition Unity. Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former party chief Rahul Gandhi were also present at the meeting.
Among the parties that were represented at the meeting were the DMK, NCP, JD(U), BRS, CPI(M), CPI, AAP, MDMK, KC, TMC, RSP, RJD, NC, IUML, VCK, SP, and JMM.
Curiously, while the TMC joined the Opposition meetings and protests, Shiv Sena (UBT) skipped protests and the dinner meeting. Shiv Sena (UBT) faction leaders said that they are skipping the meeting as they are miffed over Rahul Gandhi's remark on Savarkar.
On Saturday, the Congress leader said that "My name is not Savarkar to apologise," Taking exception to Rahul’s comment, former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray had warned Gandhi that the party "will not tolerate" insult of Savarkar.
While the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha membership has realigned the Opposition, the biggest takeaway is the TMC, which has stayed away from joint Opposition meetings and protests in Parliament till now.
TMC Chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has come out in support of Rahul Gandhi and said that in PM Modi’s new India, opposition parties have become the prime target. “We have witnessed a new low for our constitutional democracy,” she said responding to Gandhi’s conviction and subsequent disqualification.
Though the ‘black’ protest was called by the Congress party, several Opposition leaders including AAP, DMK, CPI (M) were seen wearing black in solidarity. Holding a huge ‘Satyamev Jayate’ banner and placards with ‘Save democracy’, the opposition members staged a sit-in protest along with Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge, who were in black attire. Addressing the media at a joint press conference,
Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said, “We want a JPC on the Adani issue. 18 parties have come together today. Why is the government scared of a probe? It means something is amiss.” The Congress chief said that Opposition MPs were dressed in black as ‘democracy is in danger’ and BJP had been destroying institutions, toppling elected governments, besides intimidating the opposition using central agencies.
Following the dinner meeting, Kharge wrote on Twitter, "To save one man, Modiji is trampling the interests of 140 Cr people. To protect PM's 'Param Mitr', BJP stalls Parliament that discusses people's issues. If NO wrong is committed, why is govt shying away from opposition's demand for a probe by Joint Parliamentary Committee?"
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the leaders resolved to fight against the BJP unitedly.
"Tonight floor leaders of 18 Opposition parties met at the residence of @kharge ji and with one voice decided to continue with their campaign against the Modi regime that is destroying democracy and that has subverted all institutions," Ramesh wrote on Twitter.
"They expressed their collective resolve to combat Modi's politics of fear and intimidation. This resolve will be reflected in joint actions outside Parliament beginning now," he added.
They expressed their collective resolve to combat Modi's politics of fear & intimidation. This resolve will be reflected in joint actions outside Parliament beginning NOW.