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JD(U), NCP, CPM decide to skip Cong’s show of strength

2The Congress’s plans to rally a united front against the government received a jolt on Monday after Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Sharad Pawar’s NCP and the CPI(M) decided to stay away from the Opposition’s show of strength.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said his party will not participate in Tuesday’s event. “All 16 Opposition parties will not be there…Things are not planned properly,” he said, adding that Lalu Prasad’s RJD too has “smililar reservations”.
“The Congress should know that in a combined effort, prior understanding and consultations are a must.”
JD(U) leader KC Tyagi told IANS that “we don’t know what is the agenda”. Senior NCP leader DP Tripathi said his party won’t be going to the press conference.
The Samajwadi Party, too, was undecided on the issue. “We have not decided… at least, I am not going. You may contact neta ji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) for more details,” SP leader Naresh Agrawal said.
The divide in the Opposition camp appeared to be a dampener for the Congress, which was hoping for an endorsement of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s allegations of corruption levelled at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Rahul’s charges earlier this month became a talking point, but the Opposition’s perceived unity split following a meeting between Modi and a party delegation led the Congress vice-president.
Inside the House, however, the Opposition put up a united face throughout the session, disrupting proceedings in the wake of the government’s November 8 decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes.
In Tuesday’s meeting — which gains significance in view of the upcoming state polls, the Congress was likely to focus on two issues: the corruption allegations against PM Modi, who rode to power two years ago promising a corruption-free government and the plight of the common people, due to the demonetisation exercise.
But the Congress’s larger political objective was to stitch up a united Opposition even outside Parliament.
“In the winter session of Parliament, almost all Opposition parties came together to slam the NDA government. But on the last day, as Rahul went to meet the PM, there was some misunderstanding…,” a Congress leader said.
Both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul were likely to be present along with other senior leaders in Tuesday’s programme. Invitations were sent to major opposition parties, barring Odisha’s ruling BJD, Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM.
“The party would love to see someone like (West Bengal chief minister) Mamata Banerjee or JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav demanding the PM’s clarification on the questions which Rahul raised during his recent Gujarat rally,” said the Congress leader, hours before Bihar’s ruling party pulled out of the event.
Rahul has alleged that corporates paid crores in bribes to Modi in 2013-14 when he was Gujarat’s chief minister, prompting the BJP to say that his claims were baseless.
In the event, the Congress also wants to focus on the sufferings — especially that of the farmers — due to the note ban move, even as the Opposition alleges more than 100 people have died in the aftermath of the shock decision.
PM Modi’s surprise announcement to recall the high-value bills and the subsequent revision of bank rules have sparked chaos, with millions of consumers queued outside banks and ATMs to change a limited number of old notes for new ones or withdraw cash.
The government said the move was aimed at rooting out black money and corruption, but rival parties raised questions the implementation of the exercise.

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