Opposition Alliance I.N.D.I.A to take on the NDA in 2024, bats for caste census

As the 26-party Opposition conclave concluded in Bengaluru, INDIA resolved to form a 11-member coordination committee and finalise a common minimum programme in Mumbai next month

Opposition leaders at the INDIA meet (Photo: Congress)
Opposition leaders at the INDIA meet (Photo: Congress)

NH Digital

The opposition alliance that will take on the ruling NDA in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections will be called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) and an 11-member committee will be set up for coordination, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge announced on Tuesday, 18 July, at the conclusion of the two-day conclave of the 26 parties.

Addressing a joint press conference after the meeting of the opposition parties in Bengaluru, Kharge said, "This was a very important meeting to save democracy and the Constitution in the interest of the people of the country."

"We have come together and discussed various points. With one voice, people supported the resolution adopted today," he added. "Our alliance will be called Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA)."

Kharge went on to say that the composition of an 11-member coordination committee will be finalised in the next meeting in Mumbai. The dates for the Mumbai meeting will be announced soon.

Kharge said a common secretariat will also be set up for campaign management in Delhi and specific committees will be formed for separate issues, which were detailed in a joint statement approved at the meeting.

The Congress president also launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he is now trying to bring together parties that had splintered, which shows that "he is afraid of opposition parties".

"There are some differences between us but we have put that behind... We are together in the interest of the country," Kharge said of the 26 parties in the alliance. "We'll fight the 2024 Lok Sabha elections unitedly and succeed."

The joint statement from INDIA said that the alliance had been made to protect India's Constitution, since India's values of secular democracy, economic sovereignty, social justice and federalism were "being methodically and menacingly undermined".

The statement added that the fight was against the BJP government's incessant attack on the country's democratic values, stating, "[The] role of Governors & LGs in non-BJP ruled states has exceeded all constitutional norms. The brazen misuse of agencies by the BJP government against political rivals is undermining our democracy. Legitimate needs, requirements and entitlements of non-BJP ruled states are being actively denied by the Centre."

Holding the BJP-led central government responsible for rising inflation, demonetisation and growing privatisation, the statement continued, "We reinforce our resolve to confront the grave economic crisis of ever-rising prices of essential commodities and record unemployment. Demonetisation brought with it untold misery to the MSME and unorganised sectors, resulting in large-scale unemployment among our youth. We oppose the reckless sale of the nation’s wealth to favoured friends. 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. The welfare of kisan [farmers] and khet mazdur [agricultural labourers] should always get the highest priority."

The alliance also pledged to stop rising crimes against Dalits, Adivasis and Kashmiri Pandits, and to put an end to the growing hatred against minority communities. The statement also promised the implementation of a caste census.

The release elaborated upon the common fight against BJP, stating, "We resolve to fight the systemic conspiracy by BJP to target, persecute and suppress our fellow Indians. Their poisonous campaign of hate has led to vicious violence against all those opposed to the ruling party and its divisive ideology."

"These attacks are not only violating constitutional rights and freedoms but also eroding the basic values upon which the Republic of India is founded—Liberty, Equality and Fraternity—and justice, political, economic and social. The repeated attempts by the BJP to vitiate public discourse by reinventing and rewriting Indian history are an affront to social harmony," the joint statement continued.

In her remarks at the press conference following the meeting, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee acknowledged all the leaders present, but referred to Rahul Gandhi as "our favourite".

Referring to the name that the alliance has adopted, Banerjee continued, "BJP, can you challenge INDIA? We love our motherland, we are the patriotic people of the country, we are for farmers, Dalits, we are for the country, for the world." The only job the regime at the Centre does today is to buy and sell governments, she alleged.

"INDIA will win, our country will win and BJP will lose," Banerjee added.

Leaders of the 26 opposition parties held extensive deliberations in Bengaluru over the last two days to finalise a united strategy to take on the ruling NDA in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The common minimum programme in line with this is on the agenda for the next meeting, in Mumbai.

Read the joint statement in full here.

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Published: 18 Jul 2023, 9:24 PM