Tamil Nadu chief minister M.K. Stalin will on Monday use his social justice forum to bring together the Opposition, including the Congress, on one platform -- making use of the new dynamic created by Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification.
Parties like the Trinamul Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, Samawadi Party and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi, which have been exploring non-Congress combinations to counter the BJP juggernaut, have confirmed participation and are among those listed to speak at the national conference on “Taking Forward the Struggle for Social Justice and Joint National Programme for Social Justice Movement”.
Rahul, who will be in Surat on Monday to challenge his conviction in the defamation case, will not be present at the meeting. The Congress will be represented by Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, an OBC leader.
The BJP has been accusing Rahul of defaming all OBCs with his remarks on the common surname of Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi.
Stalin has been a steadfast supporter of Rahul Gandhi for the post of Prime Minister for several years now.
But Rahul’s absence might help keep the attention on issues, rather than personalities. If any of the Gandhis were to speak, the media glare would invariably shift. While social justice will be the focus of Monday’s meeting, several Opposition leaders have over the weekend underscored the need to stay the course of attacking the Modi-Adani ties and not get diverted by questions like the Prime Minister’s post-graduate degree — an old issue that has been prised open by the Gujarat High Court order fining Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for pursuing the case.
Not all Opposition party leaders are expected to be present at the New Maharashtra Sadan in the capital for the meeting which is being organised in a hybrid mode to allow those who cannot make it in person to participate. Apart from the parties which have been coordinating on the floor of the House in Parliament and outside during this session, the All India Federation For Social Justice is also learnt to have invited the Biju Janata Dal and YSR Congress but there is no final word on their response.