After the meeting, which was hosted by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar in Patna, the opposition leaders said that the next meeting will be held soon in Shimla and will be led by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.
The announcements were made at a press conference held after an almost four-hour meeting, during which, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said the leaders will meet again soon to finalise their plan of fighting together.
Good meeting: Nitish
“We had a good meeting and several leaders expressed their views during the meeting… 17 parties have decided to work together and contest the Lok Sabha elections unitedly,” Kumar, who hosted Friday’s meet, said.
He said they were working in the national interest and accused the BJP of acting against the national interest as it was trying to change the country’s history.
Will work together to dethrone the BJP: Kharge
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge announced that the next meeting of opposition leaders would be held in Shimla in Himachal Pradesh next month.
“We have decided to prepare a common agenda and will take decisions in the next meeting on how to move forward. We will have to evolve separate plans for every state and we will work together to dethrone the BJP at the Centre,” he said.
Will work to protect our ideology: Rahul
Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, talking about the meet and the roadmap chalked, said, “We may have some differences but have decided to work together with flexibility and will work to protect our ideology”.
Meeting beginning of history: Mamata
West Bengal chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee said the first meet was organised in Patna as “whatever starts from Patna, takes the shape of the public movement”. She added that Friday’s meeting was a beginning of a history.
“We all are united and will fight unitedly against BJP,” she said and added that “the BJP wants to change history but we’ll ensure that history is saved”.
She also said that they should not always be marked as “opposition” as they too are the citizens of the country, and do not lag behind when it comes to patriotism.
AAP skips press briefing, slams Congress over ordinance
The Aam Aadmi Party, however, skipped the press briefing and came out with a statement condemning the Congress’ “silence” over the Delhi central ordinance.
Party founder Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann and Rajya Sabha members Sanjay Singh and Raghav Chaddha, who represented AAP at the meeting, were conspicuous by their absence at the press conference.
The party came out with a statement asserting the centrality of the “black ordinance”, which “not only aims to snatch democratic rights of an elected government in Delhi but poses a significant threat to India’s democracy and constitutional principles”.
The statement noted that among the parties that attended the meeting in Patna, “12 have representation in the Rajya Sabha” and “except for the Indian National Congress” all others have “clearly expressed their stand against the ordinance and announced that they would oppose it in the Rajya Sabha”.
BJP plays down oppn meeting
Meanwhile, the ruling BJP ridiculed the opposition meet, calling it a “multi-headed selfish alliance” and compared it with wolves hunting in packs.
Addressing a press conference soon after the opposition unity meeting, BJP leader and Union minister Smriti Irani said this coming together of the parties was not targeted at Prime Minister Narendra Modi but the country’s coffers.
“It is said that wolves hunt in packs! A political pack met in Patna. Their ‘prey’ is the future of India,” Irani said.
She said this alliance of selfishness was being forged with India as its target.
“Whenever these political parties came together, they brought corruption, nepotism and brought with them the allegation of constricting the economic progress of the nation,” she added.
(With inputs from agencies)