Partisan politics could derail opposition meet on note ban

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New Delhi: A planned meeting of opposition parties on Tuesday to decide their strategy for taking on the government over the demonetisation of high-value currency notes may fizzle out.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is travelling to the national capital to attend the meeting, but similar enthusiasm is missing among other opposition political parties, which are still undecided.

These include the Janata Dal (United) or JDU and Left parties led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM.

Congress leaders say that if there is a lack of a “high-profile presence”, party president Sonia Gandhi could skip the meeting or the joint press conference that is scheduled to follow it.

Opposition parties had been looking to regroup at the meeting to work out a strategy to take on the National Democratic Alliance, particularly over demonetisation. The move comes in the backdrop of the upcoming budget session of Parliament, which is being advanced, and a just-concluded winter session that was a washout.

“Coordination in Parliament is very different from having a joint strategy against the government on the ground. We cannot commit to it right away. We will decide on it only after discussing it with (Bihar chief minister) Nitish Kumar, who will take a final call on it,” a senior JDU parliamentarian said, requesting anonymity.

The JDU leader added that the party is still undecided on whether it will attend the meeting.

Kumar has been one of the few opposition leaders to praise demonetisation, terming it a positive step.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an address to his party colleagues on 16 December, praised Kumar’s stand.

The CPM, the largest party of the Left, is also undecided and will meet on Monday to take a final call on it.

“There will be a meeting held by CPM tomorrow (Monday) to decide if the party will attend the meet or not. We will have to see how the protest against demonetisation can be taken forward,” said a senior leader of the CPM on condition of anonymity.

The Left’s unease has likely to do something with the fact that the TMC, its arch rival, has indicated that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee would attend Tuesday’s meeting.

“Our party supremo will go to Delhi tomorrow (Monday) and will attend the meeting of opposition parties on 27 December. In that meeting, the next line of action will be discussed,” a senior TMC leader told reporters, according to the Press Trust of India.

The Congress party, which is anchoring the meeting, is keen on the fact that top opposition party leaders take part.

The party itself is holding a meeting on Monday afternoon where a final plan will be chalked out. The broad idea is that representatives of political parties meet on Tuesday at a neutral venue, which could be New Delhi’s Constitution Club, and then hold a joint press conference on their future strategy.