The Opposition meeting will be held on June 23 in Patna. Both Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and former president Rahul Gandhi have confirmed their presence. Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar on June 7 dialled Opposition leaders informing them of the decision.
JD(U)‘s national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh announced the new schedule in Patna on Wednesday.
“The Opposition meeting which was scheduled on June 12 will now take place on June 23 in Patna. All the Opposition leaders who are attending the meet have given their consent to be a part of the meeting. The leaders who have given their consent include All Indian Congress Committee (AICC) president Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, CPI general secretary D. Raja, CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI (ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya,” Mr. Singh said.
The meeting was initially scheduled for June 12 but had to be postponed after Mr. Kharge and Mr. Gandhi expressed their inability to attend because of prior commitments. DMK president M.K. Stalin too, had conveyed that he would not be able to come on the scheduled date.
The Congress had assured that they would be deputing a senior leader— preferably one of the four Chief Ministers to represent the party. It was felt that the very first Opposition meeting had to be attended by the top leadership of all Opposition parties so that the decision-making process was not hindered. Mr. Kumar had publicly articulated this opinion on Monday.
“I have made one thing very clear. All parties which agree to attend the meeting, must be represented by their respective heads,” he said.
Not only the Congress and the DMK but also CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury indicated that he was unavailable for the June 12 meeting. Mr. Yechury is playing a key role of inter-party emissary in the Opposition front. Many leaders in private blamed Mr. Kumar of going ahead with June 12 date, despite being informed about the unavailability of many senior leaders.
The venue in Patna was also of much wrangling. The location was decided at a meeting between Mr. Kumar and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata. She insisted that the venue had to be neutral, where the Congress did not get to play the host. Though after the party’s victory in Karnataka, Ms. Banerjee had conceded that the Congress is key for any Opposition front, she is not ready just yet to allow Congress to be in driving seat.