Congress leader Jairam Ramesh downplayed the plans of several parties skipping the Opposition meeting that will be followed by a joint press conference.
Cracks were visible in the Opposition unity ahead of Tuesday’s meeting convened by Congress to ramp up attack on demonetisation and alleged “personal corruption” of the Prime Minister, with Left parties and JD(U) unlikely to attend it. While the Left parties announced they are staying away, the JD(U) also gave hints that it may follow suit. Congress is part of the JD(U)-led Nitish Kumar government in Bihar. There was no immediate word from SP and BSP, while NCP’s Tariq Anwar, who was to attend, is unable to come to Delhi as he had to cancel his plans due to his mother’s death in Patna.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh downplayed the plans of several parties skipping the Opposition meeting that will be followed by a joint press conference. He also cited local and regional compulsions for some parties not to be together on the same platform.
“Whoever comes tomorrow will come. Those who don’t come tomorrow will come the next time. Those who will come, you will see tomorrow,” said Ramesh striking a philosophical note. 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.
Ramesh said, “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.” On the eve of deliberations, Rahul Gandhi today held a meeting of all Congress general secretaries and State Congress presidents at his residence to discuss the situation.
A senior party leader, who declined to be identified, likened tomorrow’s parleys with that of the Shimla conclave in 2003 which saw Congress pitching for unity of secular forces to oust the then NDA government led by Vajpayee.
The meeting is seen as an attempt on the part of the Congress to paper over the cracks that developed when several Opposition parties skipped the joint Opposition march to Rashtrapati Bhawan on December 16 over demonetisation.
They were apparently annoyed over Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi meeting the Prime Minister earlier that day on the issue of farmers’ problems, especially in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
“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 today.