INDIA stands for ‘Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance’, says an opposition leader at the end of a two-day meeting in Bengaluru.
More than two dozen Indian opposition parties have joined hands to form an alliance called “INDIA” to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in parliamentary elections next year.
The decision was announced on Tuesday at the end of a two-day meeting of 26 parties in the southern city of Bengaluru.
Mallikarjun Kharge, president of the main opposition Congress party, said INDIA stood for “Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance”.
“The main aim is to stand together to safeguard democracy and the Constitution,” Kharge told reporters at the end of a two-day meeting of 26 opposition parties.
Naming the alliance INDIA is seen as an attempt by the opposition parties to challenge the BJP on its own nationalist platform in elections due by May 2024.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the fight against BJP is a fight to “defend the idea of India, defend the voice of the Indian people”.
“India will unite, INDIA will win,” he tweeted in Hindi.
The Bengaluru meeting of opposition parties is their second in a month to sink differences and build a common platform ahead of next year’s elections.
The first meeting last month had 15 parties agreeing to unite against the BJP.
‘Catch us if you can’The parties, many of which are regional rivals and have been splintered at the national level, account for less than half the 301 seats that BJP has in the 542-member lower house of parliament.
They have, however, sought to resolve their differences to challenge the BJP after Gandhi was convicted in a defamation case and disqualified from parliament in March.
A statement from the INDIA alliance said the “character of our republic is being severely assaulted in a systematic manner by the BJP” and pledged to “safeguard the idea of India as enshrined in the Constitution”.
In the first indication of a common political and economic policy, the alliance said it would focus on fighting rising prices and unemployment.
“We must build a fair economy with a strong and strategic public sector as well as a competitive and flourishing private sector, in which the spirit of enterprise is fostered and given every opportunity to expand,” it said.
“We resolve to fight the systemic conspiracy by BJP to target, persecute and suppress our fellow Indians.”
Kharge said the next meeting of the alliance would form a coordination panel of 11 people, name a convenor and take up the complex issue of farming out seats for parties in the alliance to contest one-on-one against BJP.
“From today, it’s a real challenge,” said Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of the eastern state of West Bengal and a key opposition leader. “Catch us if you can.”
The BJP, which criticised the opposition group as an alliance of opportunists and the corrupt, also held a meeting of the 38-party National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that it heads in the capital New Delhi on Tuesday.
Modi attended the NDA meeting, which came only minutes after the opposition leaders met in Bengaluru.