Mumbai: Top leaders of the Opposition bloc INDIA are expected to give shape to their poll plans for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls on Friday as they gear up to take on the NDA amid expectations of an early election.
The leaders, who have gathered here from across the country, will deliberate on their strategy and move forward on specific issues like setting up a coordination committee and form sub groups to work on their common agenda, media strategy, joint actions and programmes.
During informal talks over dinner on Thursday night, the leaders stressed on the urgency to finalise seat sharing and come out with a joint agenda in a few weeks’ time.
Today is the second round of formal talks between them after which they will come out with a joint statement and will announce the coordination panel besides some sub panels to give proper shape to their poll plans.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has asked leaders of various parties to give one name from their respective parties for being part of the coordination committee.
The Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) would also unveil its logo on Friday, even though there were no discussions on it on Thursday.
The sources added that the opposition grouping should have a team of spokespersons who would speak on behalf of the alliance.
They will also discuss issues relating to having a convenor for the bloc.
The leaders would discuss the agenda during the formal meeting on Friday which will begin at 11 am, after which they would address a press conference jointly.
It was decided that a coordination committee will be formed after discussions, along with at least four sub-groups which include one to plan the joint agenda of the alliance, another on preparing the action plan and handling social media, and one on research and data analysis to take on the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Besides, a sub-committees would also be set up for chalking out joint campaign and rallies.
While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is learnt to have told the meeting that the bloc should come out with its manifesto by October 2, her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal called for finalising seat sharing among parties for the Lok Sabha polls by the end of next month.
Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Ram Gopal Yadav is also learnt to have called for finalising seat sharing between parties in states early, saying there is no time left for the opposition alliance.
Kharge is also learnt to have told the meeting to prepare a common national agenda. He told the leaders to prepare bullet points.
Discussions were also held on the special session of Parliament being convened at a short notice, with Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar saying the opposition should be ready for all contingency plans to take on the NDA’s surprise element strategy and “gimmicks”.
The government has convened a special session of Parliament for five days between September 18 and 22.
Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray told the meeting that the Parliament session is being convened on the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi and wondered “what was cooking”.
“We should not delay our plans further and begin work at the earliest,” he said.
Most leaders agreed for early finalisation of poll plans for 2024 considering that there could be early elections, while stressing that there was no time left with them and mere meetings would not help.
“Elections are coming near and we have to put our things in place and reach out to people,” said a leader.
Another leader said there was no point holding meetings and the alliance should initiate action plans and reach out to people while suggesting that poll rallies and agitations should begin as early as next month.
Some leaders also raised the issue of electronic voting machines and said there should be a discussion on that too.
Kharge, former Congress chiefs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray, West Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee, AAP convener Kejriwal, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, among others, are participating in the discussions.
National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, CPI (ML) leader Dipankar Bhattacharya, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and SP president Akhilesh Yadav, and RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary, are also among those holding hectic parleys.