- Top opposition leaders addressed subjects such as opposition unity and strategy for the 2024 general elections.
- Many leaders have suggested that the Congress needs to change leadership in order to be strengthened.
On Monday, former Union Minister Kapil Sibal held a dinner for a slew of opposition leaders at his Delhi residence. It was his birthday, but the gathering turned into a rallying point for the opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Questions were also raised concerning the Congress’s revival, which some leaders present claimed could only happen if the party was “liberated from the Gandhis’ leadership’s clutches,” according to sources. The Gandhis’ were not in being present during the occasion.
Last year, Mr Sibal was one of the dissenters who penned an explosive letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, expressing worry over the party’s decline after it lost power in 2014. In what was considered as a stunning act of dissent they also sought significant organisational reforms, such as “active, visible leadership” and internal elections, in what was viewed as a stunning act of dissent.
P Chidambaram, Shashi Tharoor, and Anand Sharma were among those invited to the event. All three are among the party’s leaders who have questioned the party’s future.
Delhi: NCP chief Sharad Pawar, TMC MP Derek O'Brien, RJD chief Lalu Prasad, DMK's Tiruchi Siva, RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Congress MPs Shashi Tharoor & Anand Sharma & other Opposition leaders arrive at Kapil Sibal's residence for a meeting pic.twitter.com/RgHsMXDBmj— ANI (@ANI) August 9, 2021
Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party, Lalu Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena, Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress, and Omar Abdullah of the National Conference were among the opposition leaders present.
The Akali Dal, a former BJP ally, was also invited for the first time, with senior party leader Naresh Gujral in attendance. Pinaki Mishra of Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal, a party that continues to provide “issue-based support” to the BJP government at the Centre, was also there.
Mr Sibal is said to have begun the attack on the government by describing how every institution has been destroyed during the government’s tenure. He also emphasised the importance of all opposition parties working together with a single goal in mind.
Omar Abdullah stated that whenever the Congress is strong, the opposition grows stronger, and questioned what actions were being taken to strengthen the party.
The Akali Dal’s Naresh Gujral took a direct shot at the Gandhis, stating that unless the Congress gets rid of the family’s clutches, it will be difficult to build the party.
Many leaders, both within the party and from other opposition parties, have indicated that the Congress requires a leadership change in order to resurrect. Several officials, however, have pushed for Rahul Gandhi to return as Congress president after the party was decimated in the national election in 2019.
“It is for the party workers to select who should head the party,” Mr Gandhi said in an interview with the Press Trust of India. “I would do whatever the party wants me to do.”
Despite multiple meetings of the Working Committee – the party’s highest decision-making body – to discuss the problem, internal Congress elections promised to the dissidents have failed to take place.
Lalu Yadav, who had been in prison until recently and had only made a few public appearances, urged the opposition parties to unite and defeat the BJP in the 2024 general election.
Mr. Chidambaram urged that the Congress work out a deal with state regional parties to form a united front against the BJP.
Most opposition leaders were told that a start has been made and that all political leaders must work together to fight the BJP.
The gathering also wished Akhilesh Yadav well in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.