Opposition parties join hands on R-Day, hold march in Mumbai

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 26, 2018

The Republic Day became a rallying point for leaders of different Opposition parties to hold a joint meeting, and a subsequent ‘Save the Constitution’ march here on Friday.

At the invitation of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar, leaders of opposition parties including rebel Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav, CPI’s D Raja, National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi and Congress’ Sushil Kumar Shinde met to discuss street mobilisation and parliamentary strategies ahead of the march. Gujarat youth leader Hardik Patel, too, was invited to joint the meeting and the march.

The meeting took place at the official residence of Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly. NCP leaders Praful Patel and DP Tripathi, and former MP Ram Jethmalani were also present.

“This was about the Constitution and the idea of a modern nation and Republic. We are dealing with regressive political forces that are pushing the country back. We have to work together to realise the idea of the modern Republic,” said D Raja. “The meeting today was not so much about parliamentary strategy. It was to mobilise people and organise them against regressive and communal politics.”

Raja said Opposition leaders will meet again on January 29 to chalk out a parliamentary strategy.

The ‘Save the Constitution’ march was seen as an attempt to consolidate anti-BJP forces ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Raju Shetti, an Independent MP from Maharashtra and convener of the march, who was also present at the meeting and the march subsequently, said participants gathered at the BR Ambedkar statue near Mumbai University and walked to the Shivaji Maharaj statue at Gateway of India.

“This is to be a silent morcha (march). After reaching the Gateway (of India), we will stage a sit-in for some time. There are no speeches,” he said.

The BJP, on its part, organised a ‘Tiranga Yatra’ in the city, apparently to counter the Opposition event.

Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar said that several ministers, MPs and MLAs participated in the yatra. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis addressed the gathering when it converges at Kamgar Maidan, he said.

The procession began from Chaityabhumi, the memorial of BR Ambedkar in Dadar, before reaching Kamgar Maidan in central Mumbai.

Published on January 26, 2018

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