INDIA bloc leaders meet at Kharge's house; senior leadership to gather soon to plan for LS polls

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with party leader Rahul Gandhi and other Opposition leaders during the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance meeting, at Kharge's residence, in New Delhi, Wednesday, December 6, 2023. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Floor leaders of 17 parties of the INDIA opposition bloc on Wednesday met at the residence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and discussed steps to improve coordination in Parliament to take on the BJP.

It was decided at the meeting that the senior leadership would meet soon and the date will be announced in a day or two. Kharge said in a post on X that a parliamentary strategy meeting of like-minded parties of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha floor leaders was held at 10, Rajaji Marg.
"We will take up issues of the people in the Parliament in the remaining part of this session to make the government accountable. "A date for the meeting of INDIA parties will soon be fixed, in consultation with the leaders of all parties. Judega Bharat, Jeetega INDIA," he said on X.

The Congress president had invited the leaders over dinner and another meeting would be held in the third week of December that will be attended by top leaders including some chief ministers from the opposition parties.

Congress leader and whip in Rajya Sabha Naseer Hussain said it was a meeting of floor leaders of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha belonging to INDIA bloc constituents.

The meeting is held every day in the morning but could not take place today, so this meeting was planned at Kharge's residence in the evening.

"The meeting was presided over by LoP Kharge and Rahul Gandhi. A number of issues of Parliament and upcoming bills were discussed. There was also a discussion about the government's attitude.

"It was also decided that a meeting of INDIA party leaders will take place soon and we will announce the date in a day or two," Hussain told reporters after the meeting.

Asked about the absence of TMC and Shiv Sena, Hussain said they had already informed that they would not be able to attend. "It happens daily that some parties are not able to participate due to some compulsion," he said.

Among Congress leaders present at Kharge's residence were its leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Pramod Tiwari, besides general secretaries K C Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh.

The opposition leaders present at the meeting included Mahua Majhi of JMM, Vaiko of MDMK, N K Premchandran (RSP), Binoy Viswam (CPI), Lalan Singh of JDU, Ram Gopal Yadav and ST Hasan of SP, Jayant Chaudhary of RLD.

Besides, Vandana Chavan of NCP, Raghav Chadha of AAP, Tiruchi Siva of DMK and Congress leaders Gaurav Gogoi, Naseer Hussain and Rajani Patil were also present at the meeting that started around 7 PM and continued for an hour.

Elamaram Kareem (CPM), Faiyaz Ahmad (RJD), Jose K Mani of Kerala Congress (M), Javed Ali Khan (SP), TR Baalu (DMK), Hasnain Masoodi (NC) and Mohd Basheer (IUML) also attended the meeting.

No leader of the TMC, which is part of the INDIA bloc, attended the meeting but party sources did not specify a reason for it. They said TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to attend the meeting of opposition parties in the third week of December.

Today's meeting assumes significance as it comes after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged victorious in the elections in three Hindi heartland states -- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh -- while the Congress won the poll battle in Telangana.

There have been rumblings within the INDIA bloc after the Congress's electoral loss in the three Hindi heartland states, with the SP, which was miffed after being ignored in seat sharing, expressing its displeasure openly.

Leaders of parties such as the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), Janata Dal (United) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have said the Congress should be more accommodating when it comes to its regional allies.

At least 26 parties came together as part of the INDIA bloc to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections and have so far held three rounds of deliberations in Patna, Bengaluru and Mumbai.

Sources said the opposition leaders would now plan joint rallies that were put on hold due to the assembly elections. One such rally planned in the first week of October in Bhopal was cancelled at the last moment.

Talks on seat-sharing between regional outfits would also gain momentum now, they said.

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