First public meeting of INDIA bloc likely to be held in Nagpur  

The coordination panel on September 13 had announced Bhopal as the venue for the rally, but the Congress backed out at the last minute 

September 20, 2023 08:06 pm | Updated 08:06 pm IST - New Delhi

 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and others during a press conference after the Opposition’s Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc leaders meeting. File.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and others during a press conference after the Opposition’s Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc leaders meeting. File. | Photo Credit: ANI

The first public meeting of the opposition INDIA bloc could be held in Nagpur in Maharashtra, informed sources said. The proposed Bhopal rally was cancelled due to the Congress’s prior campaign programme around the same time as the rally. 

“It is proposed that we have a meeting followed by a public meeting in Nagpur. The dates have not been finalised so far. The consultations are on between the constituents about it,” a senior opposition leader said.  

At the coordination committee meeting on September 13 in Delhi, the issue of holding joint public meetings was discussed. At the Mumbai summit, the INDIA bloc had shortlisted five venues — Delhi, Bhopal, Nagpur, Guwahati and Chennai. At the September 13 meeting, the question before the committee was where to hold the first rally. The messaging for each rally is to be unique, for example in Patna, the meeting would have revolved around the absence of caste census, while in Chennai it would involve the “attack on federalism”. It was Congress representative and party’s general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal, according to the sources, who suggested that the first rally could be organised in Bhopal. Many members of the panel recommended that the rally could be organised on October 2. But Mr. Venugopal, according to the sources, said he needed to speak to his party before finalising a date and therefore the panel, in its statement, should merely state that it will be held in the first week of October. 

But on September 17, the party’s Madhya Pradesh chief Kamal Nath said the rally stood cancelled.  “The Bhopal rally has not been cancelled. The Congress in Madhya Pradesh is undertaking an 11,400-km yatras starting on September 19. The yatras were announced earlier and have a fixed route of 1,700-2,000 km each. And it will take about 15 days to be completed. Since October 2 [the proposed date for the rally] falls in the middle of these scheduled yatras, we have had to stop them,” Congress’s Madhya Pradesh in-charge Randeep Surjewala told The Hindu on Monday.

He rejected the BJP’s claims that the Congress did not want the rally in Madhya Pradesh to insulate itself from the Sanatana Dharma debate that started with DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin’s comment. 

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