In order to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in parliamentary elections next year, twenty-six opposition parties in India have formed an alliance.
The decision was announced on Tuesday, July 18, 2023 at the end of a two-day meeting of 26 parties in the southern city of Bengaluru.
The Bengaluru meeting of opposition parties is their second in a month, held to do away with differences and build a common platform ahead of next year’s elections.
The first meeting which was held last month had only 15 parties agreeing to unite against the BJP.
In comments to reporters after the meeting, Mallikarjun Kharge, President of the main opposition Congress party, announced that the name of the alliance will be INDIA. He explained that INDIA stands for “Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance.”
“The main aim is to stand together to safeguard democracy and the Constitution,” Kharge said.
Kharge disclosed that the next meeting of the alliance would form a coordination panel of 11 people, name a convenor and take up the complex issue of establishing seats for parties in the alliance to contest one-on-one against BJP.
A statement from the INDIA alliance noted that the “character of our republic is being severely assaulted in a systematic manner by the BJP” and pledged to “safeguard the idea of India as enshrined in the Constitution”.
In the first indication of a common political and economic policy, the alliance revealed that it would focus on fighting rising prices and unemployment.
“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,” it said.
“We resolve to fight the systemic conspiracy by BJP to target, persecute and suppress our fellow Indians,” it added.
Moreover, Congress party leader, Rahul Gandhi asserted that the fight against BJP is a fight to “defend the idea of India, defend the voice of the Indian people.”
“India will unite, INDIA will win,” he tweeted in Hindi.
Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of the eastern state of West Bengal and a key opposition leader, stated, “From today, it’s a real challenge. Catch us if you can.”
Banerjee also tweeted that India means Bharat and no one can challenge the country. She added, “Can NDA challenge INDIA?”
“Regrouping Under A Different Name Will Not Make Them Any More Credible”
Interestingly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also held a meeting of the 38-party National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that it heads in New Delhi on Tuesday. Prime Minister Modi was in attendance.
On his part, BJP IT Cell head and co-in-charge of West Bengal, Amit Malviya opined that the renaming of the opposition group will change nothing.
In a lengthy tweet, Malviya noted, “SIMI was a radical organisation. Its officials regrouped under a different banner, when it was banned. But regrouping under a different banner did not change the character of the members and that new organisation too, was eventually banned.”
“Similarly, UPA had become synonymous with corruption and regressive politics. The same players, now regrouping under a different name, will not make them any more credible. People will banish them to boondocks, again.”Amit Malviya
Malviya emphasized that Prime Minister Modi will be elected again.
“The future of our country is too precious to be risked with one of the self serving, corrupt, dynastic parties. It is apparent that they have come together to save their shrinking turfs, not serve the people.Amit Malviya
“You can see their commitment from the fact that the Congress President cannot even pronounce ‘India’!” Malviya added.