The first opposition meeting to discuss the electoral strategy against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections is scheduled for June 12. However, there are indications that Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and former President Rahul Gandhi may not attend due to scheduling conflicts. Despite the absence of key Congress leaders, several prominent opposition parties have confirmed their participation. The objective of the meeting is to explore the possibility of fielding a common candidate against the BJP in each Lok Sabha constituency, a report in The Hindu stated.
The Congress party had requested a postponement of the meeting to June 23, citing the need to accommodate everyone’s schedules. However, it was ultimately decided to proceed with the original date due to the difficulty in finding a mutually convenient alternative.
Although the Congress leadership may not attend, the party has assured the opposition that it will send one of its leaders as a representative. This move is seen as an opportunity for the Congress to demonstrate its commitment to opposition unity.
Despite the absence of Congress leaders, several prominent opposition figures have confirmed their presence at the meeting. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) patriarch Sharad Pawar are among those expected to attend. This preliminary meeting will set the stage for further discussions and negotiations among opposition leaders, the report read.
During previous discussions with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Rahul Gandhi proposed a “chintan shivir” or brainstorming session. The purpose of this extended gathering would be to address ideological and political differences and arrive at a common stance to counter the BJP. Congress leaders believe that multiple rounds of meetings, both one-on-one and in larger groups, will be necessary to reach a consensus.
The absence of Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge is viewed as a missed opportunity by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. He has expressed frustration at their lack of response to his repeated attempts to meet with them over the past three months. Kejriwal has actively sought support from various opposition parties for the Aam Aadmi Party’s fight against the ordinance granting extensive powers to the Lieutenant Governor over the elected government.