Budget session: Takeaways from Sonia’s call to unite 17 parties against BJP


The Opposition parties are all set to attack the NDA government during the ongoing Budget session of the Parliament. In order to formulate their strategy, they met on Thursday, which was chaired by Congress ex-president Sonia Gandhi.

The leaders discussed various issues including Aadhaar matter, rampant incidents of communal violence, unemployment, fuel price rise. The meeting, on Thursday, was chaired by Congress ex-president Sonia Gandhi.

Sonia urged like-minded parties to overcome regional differences and join hands against BJP at the Centre. “We should altogether adopt a common approach and strategy both inside and outside Parliament… There can be differences among parties in states, but there should not be differences on national issues and we should stand unitedly”, she said.

“We have to work together on issues of national importance. We have to be very careful as far as the ideology of hate is concerned and there are rampant incidents of violence across the country on caste and religious lines. Constitutional institutions are being undermined,” Sonia Gandhi was quoted as saying.

This is the first time she led an opposition meeting after handing over the baton of Congress presidentship to her son Rahul Gandhi.

10 key takeaways from the meeting

1. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was missing

The BSP, which has been together with other opposition parties, skipped the crucial meeting held at Parliament House library.

2. Trinamool Congress wants Mamata Banerjee to lead the Opposition

According to TOI, Trinamool Congress indicated that their party chief Mamata Banerjee should lead the opposition. When NCP chief Sharad Pawar called a consultation of the Opposition earlier this week, Congress made it plain that Sonia Gandhi is still the head of the grouping.

3. Opposition anxious about BJP’s ‘ideology of hate’

We have to be alert on the violence being spread over religion and caste and many other issues that are of national concern and we all have to come together leaving aside differences,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad quoted Sonia Gandhi as saying at the meeting.

4. Dangerous use of Aadhaar by Modi government

Sonia Gandhi said that while Aadhaar was a good idea initiated by the UPA government, “the present government is using this as a tool to breach privacy”.

5. Economic health of country remains precarious

Unemployment is a matter of great concern for the entire nation and the government is not doing anything in this regard. Price rise of essential commodities in general and petrol/diesel in particular is a matter of great concern for entire nation, Sonia Gandhi said.

6. 17 parties united to target NDA

The meeting, held at the Parliament Library Building, is seen as part of efforts to galvanise the support of all 17 parties most of which had come together during the presidential and vice presidential polls against the ruling party.

7.  Top leaders who attended the party

Top leaders who attended the meeting included former prime minister Manmohan Singh, senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, TMC’s Derek O’Brien, CPI national secretary D Raja, SP’s Ramgopal Yadav and Naresh Agrawal, besides CPI-M’s Mohammed Salim and T K Rangarajan.

JD-S leader Kupendra Reddy, breakaway JD-U leader Sharad Yadav, RLD’s Ajit Singh, RJD’s Misa Bharati and Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav, DMK’s TKS Elangovan, JMM’s Sanjiv Kumar, AIUDF’s Badruddin Ajmal, Kerala Congress’s Joy Abrahim, IUML’s PK Kunhalikutti and RPS’s N K Premchandran were also present.

8. Mamata congratulates Sonia Gandhi for Rajasthan by-polls result

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for the Congress’s victory in the Rajasthan by-polls and said the BJP’s “downfall has started”.

Gandhi too congratulated Banerjee for the TMC’s showing in the West Bengal by-polls.

Mamata could not attend a meeting of opposition leaders chaired by the UPA chairperson in New Delhi due to other preoccupations.

9.  What buoyed the mood of the party?

After a good Congress show in Gujarat polls, the party sweep of three byelections in Rajasthan on Thursday buoyed the mood in the meeting.

10. This is the first time she led an opposition meeting after handing over the baton of Congress presidentship to her son Rahul Gandhi.business-standard