The Congress and representatives of 17 parties present at a strategy meeting Monday evening have agreed that the opposition leaders will refrain from commenting on touchy subjects like VD Savarkar. The supper gathering at Mallikarjun Kharge’s house was overshadowed significantly by Uddhav Thackeray’s absence. Infuriated by Rahul Gandhi’s remark about VD Savarkar, Mr. Thackeray had earlier that evening withdrawn from the meeting.
Mr. Gandhi’s reaction after being given a two-year prison sentence for his remarks regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last name and being stripped of his MP status was, “My name is not Savarkar, won’t apologise.”
The remarks have caused great offence to Mr. Thackeray’s party, which had previously objected to Mr. Gandhi’s remarks regarding the right-wing icon. A rift in the Maharashtra Opposition coalition could result from Mr. Gandhi’s failure to “stop insulting our God,” Mr. Thackeray had warned earlier in the day.
“I want to inform Rahul Gandhi that we have united, yes, we have united to save this nation’s democracy and constitution. But refrain from saying anything that will cause rifts,” he had advised.
According to sources, the Congress said during the dinner meeting that it would consider the sentiments of like-minded groups. According to reports, Mr. Gandhi spoke at the meeting along with his mother Sonia Gandhi and brother Rahul Gandhi.
Along with the Congress, the meeting included representatives from the DMK, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United, Telangana’s Bharat Raksha Samithi, RS, CPM, CPI, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, KC, TMC, RSP, RJD, J&K NC, IUML, VCK, SP, and JMM.
The guest roster served as a reminder of the opposition’s unusual act of supporting Mr. Gandhi during a time of need. His unfiltered remarks, however, had angered the Maharashtra ally, prompting the quick damage control move, sources claimed.
However, many of the opposition leaders made it clear that this was not a move to be interpreted in light of the general elections in 2024 but rather an issue-based support for the Congress.
According to Jawahar Sircar of Trinamool, “the issue of walking together is due symbolism, which we undertook today – a special mark of solidarity against coordinated and undemocratic attacks on everyone.”
However, the Congress mentioned a wider objective.
“Tonight, floor leaders from 18 opposition parties gathered at Karge Ji’s house and, speaking with a single voice, resolved to press ahead with their campaign against the Modi government, which they believe is undermining democracy and all institutions. They declared their intention to work together to oppose Modi’s politics of intimidation and terror. This resolve will be reflected in coordinated activities outside of Parliament starting RIGHT NOW,” the party’s in-charge of communications Jairam Ramesh tweeted.