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Day two of Opposition meet: UPA likely to get new name

Day two of Opposition meet: UPA likely to get new name
Bengaluru, NCP leader Sharad Pawar on Tuesday joined the opposition unity meeting here which will hold deliberations on giving the grouping of 26 opposition parties a name, structure and common agenda to take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. While the first day of the meeting saw informal discussions followed by a dinner meeting, Tuesday will see formal deliberations.

All political parties were asked at the dinner meeting on Monday night to suggest names for the alliance and the same would be discussed and consensus would be arrived at during the deliberations.

Sources said the parties are also likely to issue a joint declaration and finalise a committee for the functioning of the grouping. Sources say the name of Sonia Gandhi as chairperson of the new grouping is also suggested.

Sonia Gandhi was the chairperson of UPA 1 and 2, which remained in government from 2004 to 2014.

They will also announce two sub-committees one for finalising the common minimum programme along with communication points and the other for chalking out a joint opposition programme of events, rallies and conventions.

Top opposition leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, chief ministers of West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, and former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra along with party presidents and leaders of several parties were present at the meeting on Tuesday.

Pawar, who joined the meeting on day two, was accorded a warm welcome at the airport.

In a Facebook post, Rahul Gandhi said, "A United Opposition- To protect our Democracy, To Safeguard India's Constitution."

Discussions on state-wise seat-sharing and ironing out differences among regional outfits are on the agenda, they said, adding the issue of Manipur was discussed and the need for sending an all-party delegation to the violence-hit state stressed upon.

The issue of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) was discussed on Monday and further talks would take place on Tuesday.

Among others at the meeting hosted by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah were Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), Akhilesh Yadav (SP), Uddhav Thackeray (Shiv Sena-UBT), Farooq Abdullah (NC) and Mehbooba Mufti (PDP), besides Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), D Raja (CPI), Jayant Chaudhary (RLD) and MDMK MP Vaiko.

The Opposition meeting coincides with the NDA meeting convened on Tuesday in Delhi, where some new allies are likely to join the ruling BJP-led coalition.

Talks of unity notwithstanding, differences among opposition parties, especially those who have been traditional rivals, remain and reconciling political interests will be a challenging task.

Fifteen parties, including the Congress, TMC, AAP, CPI, CPI-M, RJD, JMM, NCP, Shiv Sena (UBT), SP and the JDU, attended the last meeting for opposition unity hosted by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Patna on June 23.

Among the parties added this time are the MDMK, KDMK, VCK, RSP, CPI-ML, Forward Bloc, IUML, Kerala Congress (Joseph) and the Kerala Congress (Mani), besides the Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) of Krishna Patel and Tamil Nadu's Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) led by M H Jawahirullah.

The total strength of the opposition parties attending this meeting is around 150 in Lok Sabha.

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