Top leaders of several Opposition parties on Monday met in Delhi as part of attempts to form a grand alliance to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. The meeting, held at Parliament House Annexe in Delhi, was coordinated by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu.
The meeting comes on the eve of the Winter Session of Parliament and a day before the results of the the recently concluded elections in five states – Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Telangana.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi said after the meeting that the parties had reached a consensus that the Centre’s assault on institutions must be stopped, The Indian Express reported. “This is a process and it is bringing together everybody,” he said of the meet. “I said in the room that voices in this room are voices of the Opposition in the country; our goal is to defeat BJP, protect India’s Constitution and our institutions.”
Gandhi said that Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel, news of whose resignation came in while the Opposition’s meet was on, had quit in order to protect the central bank, ANI reported. “Taking away reserves from RBI to save your skin is an act against this nation,” he claimed. “I’m very proud that people from all walks of life and institutions are standing up to it.”
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee called Patel’s resignation a matter of “great shock”. She alleged that institutions from the Central Bureau of Investigation to the RBI had become “total disasters”. Calling for a “campaign” against BJP rule, Banerjee said she had suggested that the meeting continue on Tuesday, and the Opposition leaders meet President Ram Nath Kovind over Patel’s resignation. “Financial stability is not there...financial emergency has started,” she alleged.
Senior leaders, including former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda, Rahul Gandhi with United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Banerjee, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, attended the meeting. Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury were also present.
However, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party skipped the meeting.