Top leaders of as many as 26 opposition parties are likely to attend the two-day brainstorming session in Bengaluru from Monday where they will chalk out their strategy to unitedly fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, according to sources.
On the eve of the meeting hosted by it, the Congress clarified that it will oppose the ordinance on Delhi services in Parliament, a key condition put by the Aam Aadmi Party to attend the talks.
Fifteen parties attended the last meeting for opposition unity hosted by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Patna on June 23.
"This time we are expecting leaders of 26 parties," a source said.
The opposition meeting also comes in the backdrop of the split in the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party and the West Bengal panchayat polls which saw widespread violence that claimed many lives with state units of the Congress and Left parties accusing the TMC government of oppression.
The sources said the opposition parties will chart out a joint agitational plan across the country against the policies of the BJP, especially after the NCP split in Maharashtra.
They said that the leaders will announce steps to further opposition unity to take on the BJP and 'expose its attempts at toppling opposition governments and taking control over non-BJP-ruled states through the Governors'.
"It will be a decisive meeting. Several issues will be discussed," Shiv Sena-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray leader Sanjay Raut said.
The BJP, however, hit out at the opposition parties, alleging that they are a 'divided lot' and have no specific programme other than to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
BJP president J P Nadda alleged that opposition parties were in the process of forming an alliance to 'protect' their dynastic politics.
The proposed coalition is not a 'Patriotic Democratic Alliance' but a 'Protection of Dynasties Alliance', he said in Jaipur.
Communist Party of India general secretary D Raja said the two-day session will be a step further in the demonstration of the Opposition's joint resolve to defeat the BJP.
"The Bengaluru meeting will be another step forward in uniting the secular and democratic parties in order to defeat the BJP and in order to save the nation and democracy," Raja told PTI.
Congress Parliamentary party chairperson Sonia Gandhi is also likely to attend the meeting this time.
Other top leaders including Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former party chief Rahul Gandhi, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal are expected to participate along with former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
"Today, the Congress party cleared its position against Delhi Ordinance. We welcome the announcement. Along with this, AAP will attend the opposition meet in Bengaluru," says AAP leader Raghav Chadha said.
The two-day session will begin with a dinner meeting to be hosted by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and another formal meeting on Tuesday, after which they are expected to firm up their unity plans and announce their further programme.
A senior leader said opposition parties would have to iron out their differences if they have to take on the might of the BJP.
The BJP alleged it was a meeting by a 'fractured' Opposition and that 'desperation ad confusion' has gripped the Congress with its central leadership going against the state units.
"'Disunited Congress' holding fractured 'Opposition Meeting' in Bengaluru should first explain differences within Congress.
"On the issue of Delhi Service Ordinance: Punjab Congress Mr Pratap Bajwa categorically said 'AAP doesn't deserve Congress Support'. Congress leader Mr Maken said 'Congress should not support AAP'.
"Today, Cong Gen Secy KC Venugopal says 'Congress not in favour of Ordinance-support AAP'. Political desperation and confusion grips Congress," BJP spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill tweeted.
He alleged that the Congres has become AAP's 'spare wheel'.
"'Hate for PM Modi' only glue for Opposition Unity. No agenda, no ideology and no leader - Only lust for power," the BJP leader said.