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Modi-Rahul meet breaks Opposition unity

Modi-Rahul meet breaks Opposition unity

The winter session of Parliament ended on a sour note for the Opposition as the unity its members had so carefully crafted broke on Friday.

This happened as a majority of the 16 parties, scheduled to meet President Pranab Mukherjee together on the demonetisation issue, took umbrage at the Congress breaking ranks to keep an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The result was instantaneous: the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party (both gearing up for critical elections in Uttar Pradesh), the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Nationalist Congress Party skipped the meeting with the President in protest. The DMK and the Left Parties, however, signed the joint memorandum submitted to the President.

If most of the Opposition parties were furious with the Congress and vocal about it, within the Congress, too, there were many who said privately that the leadership had erred politically in not deferring the meeting with the Prime Minister.

“There was nothing more important than maintaining Opposition solidarity till the end of the session,” a senior Congress leader said. “But instead of a climax, there was an anti-climax.”

“Just a few days ago, Rahulji had said that he would reveal something incriminating about the Prime Minister. But without doing it, he is seen sitting and talking to him. Secondly, our party allowed the Lok Sabha to function. Rahulji should have used the opportunity today [Friday] — and the immunity that Parliament provides — to make an attempt to speak. But that opportunity was lost, too. And the session ended with the government having its way,” a senior Congress leader said.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Rahul Gandhi led a party delegation to meet Mr. Modi with a demand for waiver of all farm loans.

This was surprising in itself as it came days after Mr. Gandhi had said that he had explosive information of a case of corruption involving the Prime Minister himself and that he intended to make it public soon.

The Prime Minister’s response to the Congress delegation was predictable: according to Mr. Gandhi, he “acknowledged that the farmers’ issue is serious but was mum on the loan waiver demand”.

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