NEW DELHI: In a significant development for the Indian political landscape, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar revealed that the next meeting of opposition parties would be held in Bengaluru on July 13 and 14. This announcement came following the successful gathering in Patna on June 23, where leaders from over 15 opposition parties convened to strategize and forge a united front against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
At the Patna meeting, which witnessed the participation of 17 parties including the Congress, the opposition leaders resolved to set aside their differences and work together flexibly to challenge the BJP's dominance at the national level. They also decided to hold their next meeting in Shimla to further outline a joint strategy. However, a change of plans saw the venue shifted to Bengaluru.
Sharad Pawar stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared restless following the Patna meeting, underscoring the significance of the opposition's efforts to collaborate and present a formidable challenge to the BJP's power. The Bengaluru meeting, chaired by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, is expected to formulate a concrete plan of action. "After Patna, the next meeting of Opposition parties will take place in Bengaluru on July 13 and 14," Pawar said.
Notably, the first meeting in Patna was attended by more than 32 leaders from various political parties. However, a few leaders, including Mayawati from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Naveen Patnaik from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), K Chandrashekar Rao from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy from the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), were not invited. Jayant Chaudhary of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) was unable to attend due to prior commitments.
Although there was some ambiguity regarding the exact number of parties committed to challenging the BJP, with varying claims from different leaders, the opposition leaders were determined to unite against the ruling party. The BJP, on the other hand, responded strongly to the opposition meeting, referring to it as a "multi-headed selfish alliance" and drawing comparisons to wolves hunting in packs.
While the combined strength of the opposition parties in the current Lok Sabha falls short of 200 seats out of the total 543, the leaders remain hopeful that their collective efforts can overturn the BJP's dominant position, as the ruling party currently holds a substantial majority with over 300 seats.
Initially, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had announced Shimla as the venue for the upcoming meeting. However, the change to Bengaluru indicates the flexibility and adaptability of the opposition in ensuring effective coordination among its leaders. The meeting in Bengaluru on July 13 and 14 holds immense significance as opposition parties work together to devise strategies aimed at challenging the BJP's hegemony and fostering a more balanced political environment in the country.