Kerala Chief Minister and CPI-M leader Pinarayi Vijayan, Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu, West Bengal CM and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, and Karnataka CM Kumaraswamy lent support to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government’s fight with the Centre, reports Archis Mohan.
Whether the Congress is willing or not, the rest of the Opposition has decided to hold at least one show of unity every month against the Narendra Modi government.
The support lent on Saturday evening by four chief ministers to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government’s fight with the Centre was an example of this.
The last such display was at the swearing-in ceremony of Janata Dal-Secular leader H D Kumaraswamy as Karnataka chief minister on May 23, though a half-hearted attempt to show opposition unity was made at the iftar hosted by Congress president Rahul Gandhi last week.
While the Congress distanced itself from the latest show of opposition unity, the Trinamool Congress and Communist Party of India-Marxist, arch-rivals, came together. On Saturday evening, Kerala Chief Minister and CPI-M leader Pinarayi Vijayan, Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu, West Bengal CM and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, and Kumaraswamy held a joint press conference to appeal to the Centre to break the impasse between the AAP government and its bureaucracy.
On Sunday, leaders and the cadres of the Left parties joined those of AAP in their march to the Prime Minister’s Office. CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, who took part in Sunday’s protest march, said the plan to demonstrate Opposition unity would include efforts to revive the “sanjhi virasat bachao”, or “save India’s composite culture”, campaign. There could also be joint protests and demonstrations in state capitals on issues of peoples’ concerns -- agrarian distress, steep hikes in petrol and diesel prices, joblessness, etc.
On Sunday, the four chief ministers met the PM before the start of the fourth governing council meeting of the NITI Aayog. Banerjee said the chief ministers requested the PM “to resolve the problems of the Delhi government immediately”.
The Congress stayed away from the Sunday protests also. None of the two Congress chief ministers who attended the NITI Aayog meeting -- Punjab’s Amarinder Singh and Puducherry’s V Narayanasamy -- joined the four CMs in their appeal to the PM.
However, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Hemant Soren, a Congress ally, came out in support of AAP. “The events unfolding in Delhi are clearly a brazen violation of constitutional norms and restrict federalism in the country,” Soren said. The Rashtriya Janata Dal, also a Congress ally in Bihar, has supported AAP.
The “sanjhi virasat bachao” campaign started last year under the leadership of dissident Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav. Its first meeting was held in Delhi in August, and subsequent meetings took place in Mumbai, Indore and Jaipur. All leading politicians from across the spectrum of opposition parties attended these meetings.