Opposition forms Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance to make it INDIA vs BJP’s NDA

The name of the alliance was the highlight of the joint meet of 26 Opposition parties in Bengaluru. An 11-member coordination committee will be set up in the next meeting in Mumbai.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jul 18, 2023 | 10:05 PMUpdatedJul 18, 2023 | 10:08 PM

INDIA Congress Opposition Parties Meeting Bengaluru

As if to answer the often raised question “Modi versus who?” in reference to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Opposition parties that met in Bengaluru named their coalition the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) to make it an “INDIA-versus-NDA” battle.

A meeting of 26 Opposition party leaders in Bengaluru decided on the name for their alliance to take on the BJP-led NDA in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections — the highlight of the second such meeting after the one in Patna.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting on Tuesday, 18 July, AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge announced the formation of the alliance — the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, abbreviated as INDIA.

The second meeting of the Opposition parties also decided to set up a dedicated 11-member coordination committee. The panel will be formed at the next meeting in Mumbai.

As if to send a message to the NDA led by the BJP, which has facilitated the breaking-away of the leadership in two political parties of Maharashtra — the NCP and the Shiv Sena — the next joint opposition meeting is being held in the state.

The 26 parties resolved to safeguard the idea of India as enshrined in the Constitution and defeat hatred and violence being unleashed against minorities. It also decided to stop rising crimes against women, Dalits, Adivasis, and Kashmiri Pandits.

Former AICC presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, DMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi Chief Minister Aravind Kejriwal, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, and many several others attended the two-day meeting held at a private hotel n Bengaluru.

INDIA: Mamata’s proposal

“The second meeting of the Opposition was a very important one for saving democracy and the Constitution in the interest of the country’s people,” Kharge said while announcing the alliance.

“We have come together and discussed various points. With one voice, people supported the resolution adopted today. Our alliance will be called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA),” he announced.

Tamil Nadu’s Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) founder president and MP Thol Thirumavalavan said Mamata Banerjee proposed the name. “After a long discussion, others seconded the proposal,” he told reporters.

Congress leaders, however, insisted that the idea came from Rahul Gandhi, but Mamata Bannerjee made the proposal, following which discussions were held on the exact expansion of the acronym.

Referring to the alliance, Banerjee challenged the BJP. “Can you challenge INDIA? We love our motherland. We are the patriotic people of the country. We are for farmers, Dalits. We are for the country, for the world,” she said.

“The only job the regime at the Centre does today is to buy and sell governments,” alleged Banerjee, apparently referring to the poaching of MLAs to form state governments.

“INDIA will win, our country will win, and the BJP will lose,” she added.

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the fight would not be between the Opposition parties and the BJP. “It is a fight for the idea of India that is being attacked,” he said.

“That is why this name was chosen. The fight is between the NDA and INDIA, between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and INDIA, and between their (the BJP’s) ideology and INDIA. You know what happens when someone stands against India. You know who wins,” said the former MP from Wayanad in Kerala.

“We (Opposition parties) are defending the Indian Constitution, the voice of the people, and the idea of our great country. You know what happens to those who fight the idea of India. This is the fight between the idea of India and the BJP,” he reiterated.

The additional presence of leaders like Sonia Gandhi, and Arvind Kejriwal in the Bengaluru meeting, apart from stalwarts like Sharad Pawar (despite the internal rebellion in his party), Mamata Banerjee, MK Stalin, Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad, and Sitaram Yechury seemed to add strength to the alliance.

Also read: Nitish Kumar hears echoes of bridge collapse in Bengaluru

Mumbai meet to finalise panel

Kharge announced that an 11-member coordination committee would be formed and its composition would be finalised at the next meeting in Maharashtra’s Mumbai.

However, the date for the third meeting has not been finalised. The first meeting was in Patna.

“We will constitute an 11-member coordination committee. The members of this committee will be elected at the next meeting in Mumbai. The dates for the next meeting will be announced at the earliest,” Kharge said.

“Additionally, a secretariat will also be set up for campaign management and other committees on specific issues in Delhi,” he added.

Also read: Sonia, Mamata share moments at Bengaluru Opposition meet

Alliance partners hit out BJP

The leaders, including Kejriwal and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackery, lashed out at the Narendra Modi-led Union government.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi got the opportunity to do a lot for the country in nine years, but no development has happened in any sector. The Modi government has sold railways, economy, airport, land, and sky,” Kejriwal said.

“Today, the youth, farmers, women, and labourers are all tired of the BJP government. So, these 26 parties united not for themselves. We are here to look after the welfare of the country, to build a new India, to establish an India of happiness, peace and harmony,” he said, adding that “INDIA” was for the overall development of the country.

Former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said the alliance was formed to protect the country.

“We have diverse ideologies and factions among us. In a democracy, there should be different ideologies. The reason we came together amidst this diversity is not for ourselves, but to protect the country that is like our family. Our fight is not against any particular group or individual; it is against injustice,” he said.

“Today, our struggle takes the form of a fight for freedom. We are here to instil confidence in people who are afraid of what lies ahead,” he further said.

“We are here to say that we are united to ensure the security of our country. A single person or group can’t become the entire nation. Together, we will keep our country safe,” he added.

Also read: Opposition meet in Bengaluru: UPA likely to be renamed

‘Samuhik Sankalp’ 

The alliance demanded the implementation of a caste census while asserting that it came together to defeat the “hatred and violence being manufactured against minorities” as well as “rising crimes against women, Dalits, tribals and Kashmiri Pandits”.

In the “Samuhik Sankalp” (joint resolution) released after the meeting, the parties expressed their steadfast resolve to safeguard the idea of India as enshrined in the Constitution.

“The character of our Republic is being severely assaulted systematically by the BJP. We are at a most crucial juncture in our nation’s history. The foundational pillars of the Indian Constitution, secular democracy, economic sovereignty, social justice, and federalism are being methodically and menacingly undermined,” the alliance alleged.

The Opposition parties also expressed “grave concern” over the “humanitarian tragedy” that has “destroyed” Manipur.

The parties expressed their determination to combat and confront the continuing assault on the Constitution and the constitutional rights of democratically elected state governments.

“There is a deliberate attempt to weaken the federal structure of our polity. The role of governors and lieutenant governors in non-BJP ruled states has exceeded all constitutional norms,” the resolution said.

“We reinforce our resolve to confront the grave economic crisis of ever-rising prices of essential commodities and record unemployment. Demonetisation brought with it untold misery to the MSME and unorganised sectors, resulting in large-scale unemployment. We oppose the reckless sale of the nation’s wealth to favoured friends,” the alliance said.

“We must build a fair economy with a strong and strategic public sector as well as a competitive and flourishing private sector, in which the spirit of enterprise is fostered and given every opportunity to expand. The welfare of kisan (farmer) and khet mazdur (farmhands) should always be the highest priority,” the resolution said.

The silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “shocking and unprecedented”, the Opposition parties said, asserting that there is an urgent need to bring Manipur back on the path of peace and reconciliation.

“We demand a fair hearing for all socially, educationally, and economically backward communities, and, as a first step, implement the caste census,” the parties demanded.

They resolved to fight what they claimed was a “systemic conspiracy” by the BJP to “target, persecute and suppress our fellow Indians”.

“Their poisonous campaign of hate has led to vicious violence against all those opposed to the ruling party and its divisive ideology. These attacks are not only violating constitutional rights and freedoms but also eroding the basic values upon which the Republic of India is founded — liberty, equality and fraternity and justice political, economic and social,” the resolution said.

The resolution was passed in “one voice”, the parties said.

(With PTI inputs)