INDIA finalises 14-member coordination committee amid speculation of early LS polls

Opposition's Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) leaders pose for a group photograph ahead of their meeting, in Mumbai, Friday, September 1, 2023. Photo: PTI

Mumbai: The opposition alliance INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) on Friday finalised a 14-member committee comprising members of various parties that will function as the bloc's highest decision-making body and start work on seat sharing immediately.

The bloc leaders vowed to finalise seat sharing in an accommodative spirit, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi claiming the alliance represents 60 per cent of the country's population and will easily defeat the BJP if it fights the Lok Sabha polls unitedly.

Amid speculation of early polls and the government setting up a panel to explore the possibility of 'one nation, one election', leaders from 28 Opposition parties took crucial decisions at their conclave here.

Addressing a joint press conference after the two-day brainstorming here on crystallising the alliance's structure, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge alleged the BJP-led government was stealing from the poor to help big industrialists. "INDIA grouping must win to stop this loot."

"We all have a common goal to fight inflation and unemployment," Kharge said at the presser.

In his remarks, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi slammed the government over fresh allegations against the Adani Group. He also claimed China has "taken India's land in Ladakh" and everyone there knows about it.

"The most important thing to understand is that this stage represents 60 per cent of the Indian population. If the parties on this stage unite, it is impossible for the BJP to win an election," he said. "I am confident the INDIA bloc will easily defeat BJP."

"We will propose a clear development path which involves poor people in the progress of the country," Gandhi said.

He acknowledged the differences within the alliance but said what impressed him was how those differences have been minimised and ironed out.

West Bengal CM and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee felicitates Congress leader Sonia Gandhi as opposition's INDIA leaders pose for a group photograph ahead of their meeting, in Mumbai, Friday, September 1, 2023. Photo: PTI

It was the third meeting of the Opposition alliance -- their first meeting was held at Patna and the second at Bengaluru.

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the opposition bloc has resolved to fight corruption and not allow 'mitra-parivarvad', a term he used apparently to counter the BJP's allegation of nepotism against the opposition parties.

"INDIA parties have resolved to fight corruption. We won't allow 'mitra-parivarvad'," he said, seeking to buttress the opposition's allegation of crony capitalism against the BJP.

Thackeray said the INDIA grouping was getting stronger every passing day and their unity was creating panic among their rivals.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said there is no certainty about elections and they could be held early, urging the alliance partners to remain alert and prepared. "We have discussed this."

His remarks came on a day the government set up a committee to study the feasibility of "one nation, one election", opening the possibility of Lok Sabha polls being advanced so that they could be held with a string of state assembly polls.

Delhi CM and AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal being assisted by CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI General Secretary D Raja as opposition's INDIA leaders pose for a group photograph ahead of their meeting, in Mumbai, Friday, September 1, 2023. Photo: PTI

Kumar said that with opposition parties coming together, those in power at the Centre will have to go now.

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal said INDIA was not an alliance of some parties but of 140 crore Indians who want to build a developed India.

"There has never been such an arrogant and corrupt government at the Centre," he alleged and said their arrogance would bring them down.

"No one has joined the INDIA group for any post," Kejriwal said after the opposition meeting. "We have come together for 140 crore Indians."

RJD chief Lalu Prasad said PM Modi benefited because opposition parties were not together and he was happy that they are united now.

He slammed the government, alleging that minorities were not feeling safe in the country and prices were rising constantly.

Lalu Prasad said he would be accommodative in seat-sharing and the process across the country would be completed without any problem.

CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury said the BJP government was rattled by the coming together of secular forces and asserted that the unity will be consolidated with public meetings across the country.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar slammed the BJP for its 'Ghamandia' barb at the INDIA grouping, saying it shows their arrogance.

(With PTI inputs)

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