Indian opposition parties to 'unite' against Modi

Critics accuse government of damaging country's secular credentials

Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi. AFP
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Opposition parties in India on Friday pledged to “unite” to fight against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming national elections.

The polls to elect the country’s next government are expected to be held in March and April next year, as Mr Modi completes his second term in office in May.

Representatives of as many as 17 opposition parties on Friday met in Patna city in the eastern state of Bihar to deliberate on a roadmap and launch a joint fight against the government.

The opposition parties accuse Mr Modi’s government of damaging India’s secular credentials by resorting to religious and divisive politics, crushing dissent and targeting political opponents.

Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar and leader of the Janata Dal (United) party, hosted the meeting.

It was attended by veteran leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav and MK Stalin from the main opposition Indian National Congress party.

“Protecting the constitution and democracy is our sole responsibility. Our meeting is to give a new direction to the country,” Mr Kharge said.

Ms Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, said: “We are united. We will fight unitedly. Don't call us opposition, we are also citizens of this country.

"We will fight together against the political vendetta of the BJP. Let our blood flow, but we will protect the people and the country. Next meeting will be held in Shimla."

Some of the parties share historical rivalries, but the INC's Rahul Gandhi said the parties were banding together to protect their common interest in uniting the country.

“It is a battle of ideologies. Indeed, there will be differences amongst us, but we have decided to work together and protect the ideologies shared by us," Mr Gandhi said.

The leaders will gather again in Shimla in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh in August to prepare an “agenda to move ahead together in respective states to fight against the BJP”, Mr Kharge said.

Updated: June 23, 2023, 2:18 PM