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‘Not a setback for opposition unity’: D Raja on AAP’s stance

Patna Opposition Meet

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PATNA, June 25 (PTI): With the Aam Aadmi Party striking a discordant note over the Patna meeting, CPI general secretary D Raja has said it was “not a setback” for opposition unity and asserted that as independent political parties there can be “small angularities” on certain matters but those were being overcome.

He also said the leadership of the opposition bloc was not an issue for now but the BJP was raising such matters as it was afraid of the outcome of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

In an interview with PTI after the crucial meeting of 15 opposition parties here, Raja stressed the secular democratic parties that have come together are capable of taking a decision on any issue “collectively”.

Raja also termed TMC leader Mamata Banerjee’s participation in the deliberations and speaking openly after that as “a positive sign”.

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Asked if the next step for the Opposition grouping would be to finalise seat sharing and a common agenda, he said they have told the people of this country through a joint press conference that they are all together and have the resolve to defeat the BJP to save the nation and Constitution.

“The other follow-up actions will be discussed, we will cross the bridge when it comes,” he told PTI at the Communist Party of India (CPI) office here.

AAP supremo and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann attended the meeting, but skipped the press conference that followed.

Asked if it was a setback for opposition unity, Raja said, “I don’t think it is a setback. In fact, in a way it is positive also, one should take it like that because we are all independent political parties, there can be small angularities on certain issues…but we are overcoming those and we have agreed to come together.”

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“We all understand that the country is passing through challenges and the Constitution, democracy, secularism and diversity of the country are all under attack,” he alleged.

He said all secular democratic parties are in agreement and have expressed their resolve they will fight together to defeat the BJP in the elections in 2024.

Asked about the AAP’s statement that it will be difficult for it to attend future meetings of opposition parties where the Congress is a participant, Raja said he had not read their statement and does not want to speculate on it.

“What I understand is that they were present at the meeting till the very end and due to their travel commitments, they left,” the CPI leader said.

Raja said he was “very hopeful and optimistic” that all non-BJP secular parties will come together to defeat the BJP in 2024.

Pressed further if AAP would be part of the bloc jointly taking on the BJP, he said the party has to decide that and he cannot decide for them.

“If our commitment to the people and country is sincere, we will come to a common understanding,” he asserted.

Opposition parties on Friday had resolved to take on the BJP unitedly in 2024 Lok Sabha elections at a crucial meeting here hosted by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, even as fissures emerged with the AAP asserting it would be difficult for it to be part of any such gathering in future till the Congress publicly supports it on the ordinance issue.

On the BJP attacking the opposition over its meeting and calling their coming together opportunistic, Raja claimed that ever since the people of Karnataka have given a verdict defeating the BJP, it has become desperate.

“The BJP is jittery and with every passing day their desperation is growing. They understand there is discontent across the country which is growing and the Karnataka election results mark the beginning of the defeat of the BJP at national level,” he claimed.

It is out of desperation that they are hurling abuses at the opposition parties and undermining their efforts, he said.

Hitting out at the BJP for its ‘marriage party without a bridegroom’ jibe, Raja said it is an “absurd statement” that does not deserve a response.

“They should not stoop to such levels. The BJP should conduct its political polemics in a dignified way and not resort to such abuses and absurd comments to belittle the unity of the secular democratic parties,” he said.

“Political parties are mature enough. We are discussing collectively, we will be able to discuss collectively who should head the government, right now these are not the issues and why is the BJP discussing such issues which we are not. It shows the desperation of the BJP and that it is afraid of the outcome of the forthcoming elections,” he said.

One should know Indian history, when the United Front government was formed in the 1990s, how we had elected HD Deve Gowda and I K Gujral, he said.

“Leave it to the political parties, they are mature enough, they are working together and they are capable of taking a decision on any issue collectively,” he asserted.

Asked about the state-wise seat sharing and electoral strategy, Raja said the opposition parties have agreed to come together and when they are near the elections, they will discuss the strategy, taking into consideration the balance of political forces in each state and how to pull in the anti-BJP votes.

Raja said the message to opposition parties is very clear that all secular democratic outfits must strengthen their unity to put up a strong fight against the BJP.

Asked about the common agenda that the opposition parties would prepare, Raja said it would be discussed and added that as a CPI person he would want the focus to be on addressing basic issues of livelihood of the people, alleged privatisation spree by the Centre and the BJP’s “politics of polarisation”.

 

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