Will Sharad Pawar’s push push the Allied Congress to back Kejriwal and fix the 2024 opposition bloc?
“This is not the time for debate, this is the time to save parliamentary democracy,” NCP chief and Congress ally Sharad Pawar said while addressing a joint news conference with Delhi Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal, assuring that the people of Maharashtra would support the AAP in their crusade against the May 19 ordinance.
The NCP chief said that this is not an issue restricted to Delhi or the Aam Aadmi Party, but rather it is about safeguarding the power of elected governments to rule. Going a step further, the political veteran, citing his 56-year experience, said he would travel to various states to garner support from non-BJP political parties. “We have to focus on uniting all non-BJP parties. Ensuring that all non-BJP parties support Arvind Kejriwal is our duty,” Pawar said in an apparent message to the allied Congress, which has yet to rule on the Center ordinance in Delhi.
Seizing the moment, Kejriwal said, “I will formally find time for a meeting with Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi tomorrow (May 25).”
After decimating Congress to zero in the Delhi Assembly, this is the first time the AAP chief has publicly and openly sought support from the Grand Old Party’s top brass. Before the 2019 election, Kejriwal briefly met Rahul Gandhi at Pawar’s residence in Delhi. However, the talks failed as Congress and the AAP could not agree on who should fight for how many seats.
Meanwhile, the left-wing parties that have been with the Congress in Parliament—CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), RSP, Forward Bloc—have already announced their opposition to the Center ordinance. In fact, on May 24 they became the first to demonstrate in the streets against the ordinance. On May 25, PCI(M) spokesman Popular Democracy called on the Supreme Court to annul the ordinance and on political parties to unite against it.
“The Supreme Court as custodian of the Constitution will have to intervene to annul this draconian measure. At the political level, all the opposition must unanimously oppose the ordinance when it is sought to be legislated in Parliament.
Taking special note from Congress, the CPI(M) spokesperson said: “The Congress party should stop wavering in its position. Animosity towards Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP cannot determine his position. This is not about an individual leader or a single party, it is a basic attack on democracy and federalism.”
Calling it an indicator of “opposition unity” before 2014, the CPI(M) spokesman said: “How united the opposition parties move to oppose the ordinance will influence the unity that will be forged for the battle bigger against the looming BJP”. forward.”
In Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has strongly criticized the BJP and announced her party’s opposition to the ordinance, calling on other political parties to do the same. “I appeal to all parties. This is an opportunity for all of us to come together as the opposition and send a big message to the whole country that we can defeat the BJP in the Rajya Sabha and scrap the ordinance.”
Similarly, in Mumbai, former Maharashtra Prime Minister and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, a Congress ally, also supported Kejriwal with the weight of his party. “We have all come together to save the country and democracy. I think we should not call ourselves ‘opposition’ parties. In fact, they (the Center) should call themselves ‘opposition’ since they are against democracy and the Constitution”.
Also endorsing Kejriwal, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and RJD head Tejashwi Yadav said: “We have come to give full support to Kejriwal-ji for the way he is being harassed. The central government is doing an injustice especially after the SC verdict makes everything clear. They (the central government) are discriminating against non-BJP governments in the states. They want to change the Constitution. There is a threat to democracy.”
In fact, Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, who is tasked with uniting the Opposition against the BJP ahead of the big battle in 2024, has already spoken to Kharge and Rahul Gandhi, urging the latter to support. the AAP in their fight. However, after the meeting, General Secretary KC Venugopal tweeted: “No decision has been taken by the Congress party on the issue of the Ordinance filed against the SC ruling on the powers of the Delhi NCT Government. He will consult his state units and other like-minded parties on the same.”
In a veiled reference to the AAP, the secretary-general added: “The party believes in the rule of law and at the same time does not condone unnecessary confrontation, political witch-hunts and campaigns based on lies against political opponents by any political party.
The Center has six months to present the ordinance as a bill in Parliament. You may not be in a big hurry to do it. However, pressure from allies, former allies and potential allies is mounting on the Congress party, particularly amid talks on opposition unity by 2024. On May 25, when Kejriwal finished the first stage of his campaign to support opposition parties against May 19 ordinance after visits to West Bengal and Maharashtra, garnered public support from JD (U), TMC, Shiv Sena (UBT), left-wing parties and NCP. Now, it’s time to score the Congress party. One more time.