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Anti-demonetisation meet fails to unite Opposition, parties question Congress' motive

Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s call seems to have failed to form a ‘united Opposition force’ against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move.

Many Opposition parties have expressed apprehension over participating in the proposed meet scheduled to be held in New Delhi on 27 December. Is it because the agenda of the press conference is unclear as some of the parties have claimed or is it that the Opposition parties do not want to be seen as against Modi’s ‘anti-corruption move’?

Five questions

Before giving nod to be a part of the proposed press conference called by the Congress party on Tuesday, several Opposition parties have posed five questions for the Congress.

1. What’s the agenda of the meeting?
2. Is it only to attack the demonetisation move?
3. Is there any common minimum programme that will be discussed by the Congress with other parties?
4. Are all the 16 Opposition parties participating on 27 December?
5. Will Congress clear its own economic stand?

The Janata Dal (United) that had forged a coalition with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress to win Bihar Assembly election sounded apprehensive joining the press conference.

 Anti-demonetisation meet fails to unite Opposition, parties question Congress motive

Opposition leaders. File photo. PTI

“We haven’t decided yet. In all possibility we won’t participate in the meeting tomorrow. There’s clearly no common minimum programme, no common agenda. Inside Parliament, we had been with other parties including the Left and criticised the poor implementation of demonetisation. But, now as the Congress party has called a political leaders’ meeting, it has to first tell what is the agenda or central theme of this meeting,” Rajya Sabha MP and JD(U) leadrer, KC Tyagi told Firstpost.

Let’s not forget that Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar — from the Opposition camp — was among the first leaders to welcome Modi’s demonetisation move. This obviously keeps JD(U) out of the meeting, if the sole purpose of it, is to oppose demonetisation.

But, the JD(U) is not alone in remaining away from the press conference.

The Left, especially the CPM that has been vocal against the poor implementation of demonetisation and its cascading effect on the poor, the labourers and the farmers, has also backed out from the meeting.

“Opposition alignment needs prior consultancy, prior discussion and understanding. Moreover, 16 Opposition parties won’t be there. A few days back, I had received a call from the Congress leadership regarding the press conference on 27 December, but when I wanted to know the agenda of the meeting, plan of action and whether all Opposition parties have been called, I didn’t receive any answer,” CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury told PTI.

Explaining why CPM shouldn’t be a part of the presser just because Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has launched a scathing attack against demonetisation, the CPM central committee member Badal Saroj said an anti-BJP front is not possible at present on the issue of demonetisation alone.

“Forming an anti-BJP front at present is not possible just by criticising demonetisation. Congress has to first clear its own economic stand. Is Sonia Gandhi ready to give up the economic path that was followed during the UPA regime? They have to change themselves first and give up the policies adopted by the Manmohan Singh government,” Saroj told Firstpost.

“It’s obvious that demonetisation has badly affected workers and labourers, and we’ve taken it up at every forum. But, larger mobilisation through political unity is needed to combat bigger issues like communalism and economic policies like poverty alleviation etc,” he added.

Why the presser seems infeasible?

The JD(U) doesn’t want to be seen in an alignment, where parties like All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC) is one of the allies. “Political parties like TMC want rollback of demonetisation, but we have asked for proper implementation of the move. Here lies the difference,” added Tyagi.

Besides, the Left and JD(U), a few others are equally apprehensive about being a part of Sonia’s ‘all-party meeting’.

Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is not likely to participate. Even, the Samajwadi Party is not clear about its stand. “Party leadership hasn’t decided whether to participate in it or not. Till now we’re not taking part in tomorrow’s meeting,” an NCP source said.

According to sources, the Bahujan Samaj Party may also back out because the party supremo has strongly criticised the proposed SP-Congress tie-up ahead of Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.

Is Mamata Banerjee the only face-saver?

“I’m going there to discuss. Let’s see,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters before taking her flight from Kolkata to Delhi on Monday. Mamata, who is also the chairperson of the All India Trinamool Congress, has already called upon the people and different political parties to intensify the anti-demonetisation movement across the country by giving a call ‘Modi Hatao, Desh Bacho’.

Her party will launch its eight-day state-wide anti-demonetisation movement from 1 January to mark its foundation day.

According to political pundits, right now the Opposition parties do not want to be seen as against Modi’s anti-corruption move, as the common man despite standing in long queues for hours at bank branches and ATMs, have given thumbs up to demonetisation policy, if not its ill-prepared implementation.

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Updated Date: Dec 26, 2016 22:03:17 IST

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