MUMBAI: In a move indicating an opposition convergence ahead of the budget session of Parliament next week, NCP chief Sharad Pawar banded together non-NDA parties to lead a “save Constitution” march here on Republic Day. Pawar’s role in organising the opposition show is significant as NCP has often come across as ambivalent in its ties with Congress and has sometimes appeared neutral about BJP.
In the recent Gujarat elections, Congress leaders believed that NCP candidates had hurt its prospects to BJP’s advantage. Every party that has positioned itself as anti-BJP — Congress, Left, Trinamool Congress — took part in Friday’s march, as also Congress-aligned voices like PAAS leader Hardik Patel.
The march was high on symbolism with the opposition choosing the 69th Republic Day to allege an assault on the Constitution. The event, along with Congress’s insistence that controversies in the Supreme Court and allegations regarding the death of judge B H Loya, provides ample signals of a contentious start to the Budget session. Countering the opposition march, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis took out a ‘Tiranga march’ in Mumbai on Friday. The coming together of key players may have serious implications for the government in the Budget session.
Already, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury has signalled an aggressive intent by saying that the opposition was considering a proposal to move an impeachment motion against CIJ Dipak Misra. The proposal, Yechury indicated, stems from the press conference by four seniormost judges of the SC who questioned the CJI’s decisionmaking regarding allocation of cases. Besides, the opposition may also take up controversial issues like Loya’s death and development issues like rural distress which they feel have a strong resonance in the countryside.
Among those present at the rally were Yechury, CPI leader D Raja, lawyer Ram Jethmalani, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Congress leaders Ashok Chavan and Sushil Kumar Shinde, Trinamool Congress’s Dinesh Trivedi, former J&K CM Omar Abdul-lah, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetty and NCP MPs Praful Patel and Supriya Sule.
Led by Pawar, the group marched from Ambedkar Statue in Nariman Point to Gateway of India to condemn the alleged attempts of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government to “change the Constitution”. They dispersed after observing a silence in protest. Underlining the provocation behind organising the protest on a national holiday, Pawar on Thursday said Union minister Anantkumar Hegde’s statement that the government was planning drastic changes to the Constitution had bared the intentions of the Modi regime. “We are not convinced by the mere withdrawal of the statement,” Pawar said.