As many as 26 Indian opposition parties have formed an alliance titled “INDIA” to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in parliamentary elections due next year.
INDIA stands for “Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance”, said Congress party President Mallikarjun Kharge.
“The main aim is to stand together to safeguard democracy and the constitution,” Kharge told reporters at the end of a two-day meeting of 26 opposition parties in the southern city of Bengaluru.
The opposition parties’ second meeting in a month is part of their efforts to iron out differences to build a common platform ahead of next year’s elections.
The parties account for less than half the 301 seats BJP has in the 542-member lower house of parliament.
Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi said this is a fight between opposition’s INDIA and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
“We are defending the Constitution, voice of Indians and the idea of India…The fight is between NDA and INDIA, Narendra Modi and INDIA, his ideology and INDIA,” NDTV quoted Gandhi as saying.
The BJP has criticised the opposition group as an alliance of opportunists and the corrupt and is on Tuesday holding a meeting of the 38-party National Democratic Alliance it heads.
A statement from the INDIA alliance said the “character of our republic is being severely assaulted in a systematic manner by the BJP” and pledged to “safeguard the idea of India as enshrined in the Constitution”.
In the first indication of a common political and economic policy, the alliance said it would focus on fighting rising prices and unemployment.
“We must build a fair economy with a strong and strategic public sector as well as a competitive and flourishing private sector, in which the spirit of enterprise is fostered and given every opportunity to expand,” it said.
“We resolve to fight the systemic conspiracy by BJP to target, persecute and suppress our fellow Indians,” it said.
“From today, it’s a real challenge,” said Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of the eastern state of West Bengal and a key opposition leader. “Catch us if you can.”
— With input from Reuters