Experts Raise Doubts Over Unity of Indian Opposition Parties After Rahul Gandhi’s Breakfast Meeting
Last week, the former chief of the Congress Party headed two meetings attended by opposition parties to discuss the Pegasus spyware scandal.
The leader of India's main opposition political party the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, held a breakfast meeting with 14 opposition party leaders on Tuesday in an attempt to unite opposition forces against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.
The meeting took place in the Constitution Club in New Delhi amid a continued standoff between the opposition and government over the Pegasus snooping scandal. Opposition parties are demanding a full discussion in Parliament and an investigation by India's Supreme Court. However, the government is reluctant to carry out any probe and maintains that the Pegasus row is not an issue worthy of being discussed in Parliament.
After the meeting, Gandhi – along with other opposition leaders – cycled to the Parliament building to highlight high fuel prices. Last week, Gandhi drove the same route on a tractor to express solidarity with the farmers protesting against contentious farm laws.
For the breakfast meeting, Gandhi invited floor leaders from 17 opposition parties, including the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party (SP), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Kerala Congress (M), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), National Conference (NC), Loktantrik Janata Dal and Trinamool Congress (TMC).
However, Delhi’s ruling party, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and former state chief of Uttar Pradesh Mayawati’s party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, skipped the meeting.
Opposition’s Unity Still a Big Question
Although 15 out of 17 opposition parties attended the meeting organised by Gandhi, the unity of the opposition remains doubtful.
Former Congress leader Shehzad Poonawala told Sputnik: “If Rahul Gandhi really wants a discussion over the issues then why isn't he asking the Opposition to run the Parliament smoothly? The tractor ride or cycle ride to Parliament is just to gain popularity on social media.”
“As far as unity of the Opposition is concerned, the big question is whether all the parties are ready to accept him as future Prime Minister of the country. TMC has been skipping such meetings on and off while AAP, BSP, TRS, YSRCP and others didn’t attend today’s meeting,” he added.
Poonawala said that some leaders within the Congress are not accepting him as the leader.
Political analyst Sandeep Shashtri said: “Such meetings are not new. When the BJP was in opposition, they also did the same. This is part of a political strategy."If you talk about the unity of the Opposition, everybody has their own political calculations. So coming together is easy but staying together is difficult. The unity of the Opposition parties depends on how Rahul Gandhi goes about his task, on what basis they are uniting, whether they have an agenda of coming up with a viable alternative against the government."