Leaders from various opposition parties in India gathered on Monday to mark the 110th birth anniversary of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal and called for a united front against the BJP. Notable figures such as Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference and Sukhbir Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal attended the rally organized by the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Haryana.
Speculation had arisen about the attendance of other prominent leaders, including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury. However, the event, which has historically been a platform for political theater, did not see their participation. Even Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress president, declined the invitation extended by INLD leader Abhay Chautala, PTI reported.
Among the attendees were leaders from various parties, including TMC's Derek O'Brien, JD(U) leader K C Tyagi, Bhim Army's Chandrashekhar Azad, former Union minister Birender Singh, and Rashtriya Lok Dal's S Siddiqui. SAD leaders Prem Singh Chandumajra and Balwinder Singh Bhundar were also part of the rally.
The event served as a demonstration of the INLD's political strength, as the party has been out of power in Haryana since 2005. National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah addressed the crowd, urging opposition parties to set aside their differences and collaborate to challenge the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. He emphasized the need for unity to counter the challenges facing India and called out those who seek to spread division and hatred.
JD(U) leader K C Tyagi echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the importance of rallying around the INLD in Haryana for any chance of success in the state. Tyagi argued that complete unity among opposition parties is essential to effectively challenge the BJP government, and this unity cannot be achieved without the INLD.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O'Brien also called for unity among opposition parties to oust the BJP from the Centre. He urged parties to put aside ego and fight together, highlighting the need for collective action to achieve success in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, the chief of the Shiromani Akali Dal, appealed to regional parties to unite under a single platform to form the next government in India. He emphasized the positive impact of regional parties on state progress and cautioned against the rise of new parties like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which he claimed had negatively affected Punjab.
Badal expressed concern about the polarization of votes and communal tensions instigated by some parties and stressed the importance of making all minorities feel safe in the country. He paid tribute to Devi Lal, highlighting the farmer leader's contributions to Haryana, including debt waiver and old age pension schemes.
Farooq Abdullah criticized the recent women's reservation bill passed by Parliament, labeling it as another BJP 'jumla' or empty promise. He also accused the BJP-led Centre of not conducting elections in Jammu and Kashmir. In closing, Abdullah predicted more political rhetoric in the run-up to the elections.