On 18 July, PM Modi inaugurated an airport terminal at Andaman Nicobar Islands airport.
The terminal was christened after freedom fighter VD Savarkar.
The same day, 26 opposition parties across India christened their coalition as ‘INDIA’, short for ‘Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance,’ as they convened to discuss a strategy to take on the ruling NDA in the 2024 elections.
The earlier name United Progressive Alliance (UPA) seems to have not found favour with its participants for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, which the BJP still remains the favourite to win, in the absence of any alternative to its charismatic leader and incumbent PM.
‘Their Common Minimum Programme is to increase corruption for their families. Democracy means ‘Of the people, by the people, for the people’, Modi’s rhetoric thundered.
‘Of the family, by the family, for the family.’ For them, their family is first and the nation is nothing.’
The PM added that political alliances ‘built on negativity’ never succeeded and recalled the achievements of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 1998.
The INDIA alliance consists of regional rivals as well as the grand old Congress at the national level, together they account for less than half of the 301 seats BJP has in the 542-member lower house of parliament.
While divided by their differences, the alliance seeks to dislodge the BJP in 2024.
Reports of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar being upset with the way the two-day conclave panned out did the rounds at first. Sources said Kumar was upset at the way the Congress ‘stole the show’ and that he did not like the INDIA name adopted by the alliance, which he played a major role in bringing together.
The Janata Dal (United) chief quickly stepped in on Wednesday to end any speculation of discontent.
The Bihar CM said it was heartening to see 26 parties attend the brainstorming session, up from the 15 that had gathered in Patna on June 23.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi told reporters in Bengaluru the fight against BJP is a fight to ‘defend the idea of India, defend the voice of the Indian people.’
The alliance’s statement also mentioned building a strong economy and fighting what they called BJP’s ‘persecution of Indians.’
Congress Chief Mallikarjun Kharge said the next meeting of the alliance would form a coordination panel, 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.
Modi and the BJP, in turn, organised an NDA meeting in Delhi on Tuesday, to mark its 25th anniversary. 38 parties, many of them smaller regional groups, were in attendance.
With the thumping victory accorded the BJP in 2019, the influence of alliance partners has reduced in the NDA.
Analysts opine however that the BJP is not one to leave anything to chance to win a third term and is looking to strengthen internal equations in the alliance.
‘We unite the people of India, they divide the people of India, they underestimate the ordinary people of India,’ Modi said at the meeting, referring to the opposition.
‘People are watching why they are coming together, what is the glue that is bringing them together,’ Modi said.
‘People have made up their mind to give the mandate to NDA a third time.’
A complaint has been filed with the Delhi police against the opposition parties for ‘improper use’ of the name ‘INDIA,’ to gain “undue influence” in elections, officers said on Wednesday.
Police confirmed that a complaint has been received at the Barakhamba station. ‘We have received a complaint but no action has been initiated so far from our end,’ they added.
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