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Published On: Fri, Dec 16th, 2016

Congress allies pull out of protest after Rahul Gandhi meets PM Modi alone

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imagesimagesNEW DELHI : Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning has dealt a big blow to the carefully crafted opposition unity that held fast through the winter session of Parliament, just ahead of a Congress-led march today to presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhavan in protest against the notes ban.

At his meeting with Mr Gandhi, the Prime Minister said, “We should always meet like this.” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge responded by saying, “Even if our hearts don’t meet, we can at least cooperate and shake hands.

The Left parties, the Samajwadi Party, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, the Nationalist Congress Party headed by Sharad Pawar and the DMK in quick succession dropped out of the protest march to meet the President, minutes before it was to begin from the Gandhi statue in the parliament premises.

They are upset that the Congress Vice-President sought a meeting with the Prime Minister without involving the other opposition parties. At the meeting, Mr Gandhi, who was accompanied by senior leaders of his party, raised with the Prime Minister the plight of farmers who he met during a tour of Uttar Pradesh while campaigning in the state, where elections will be held soon.

“Are we not concerned about the plight of farmers?” asked a leader of the BSP, which is a major player in the Uttar Pradesh elections, as is the Samajwadi Party, which rules the state and is seeking another term.

Among those who marched with the Congress are Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the party’s Bihar allies Janata Dal (United) and the RJD. The Left and the others were firmly behind Rahul Gandhi when he declared two days ago that he has information on the “personal corruption” of PM Modi, a claim dismissed by the BJP as “the joke of the year.”

The ruling party has dared Mr Gandhi to make the information he claims he has public, with leader after BJP leader attacking the Congress Vice-President over his comments.

In apparent signs of cracks within the Opposition, a host of parties, including Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, NCP, DMK and the Left parties, today pulled out of the demonetisation protest march to meet President Pranab Mukherjee, minutes before it was to begin from the Gandhi statue in the Parliament premises.

Opposition leaders questioned why Rahul Gandhi went with only a handful of Congress MPs to meet the PM and did not take along representatives of other parties. Sources said that around 9.30 am it was decided in a meeting that all Opposition leaders will meet PM Modi but BSP chief Mayawati and leaders from Samajwadi Party expressed anger over Rahul’s meeting with the PM alone with his party MPs.

NCP leader Praful Patel said, “We were together in the Parliament. It would be better if they would have taken all along. Outside house everyone has a different role.”

The rift in the Opposition became clear after some of the parties (Left, SP, BSP, NCP and DMK) decided to stay away from the protest march to meet the President over farmer’s issue and demonetisation.



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