The event will be significant for the Congress and Trinamool Congress leaderships, cementing the proximity during the winter session of Parliament.
Archis Mohan and Amit Agnihotri report.
Tuesday promises to be an interesting day politically, with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, along with some other Opposition party leaders, set to hold a joint press conference in New Delhi, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to address a public rally in Dehradun in the morning.
The event will be significant for the Congress and Trinamool Congress leaderships cementing their proximity that was achieved during the winter session of Parliament.
The Congress and Left parties had a seat adjustment in the Bengal assembly polls in May 2016.
The Congress, as well as Trinamool Congress leaders, said that the Communist Party of India-Marxist deciding to stay away from the joint press conference had more to do with its regional political compulsions than a sign of cracks in Opposition unity. The Trinamool and CPI-M are rivals in Bengal.
Similarly, the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party are unlikely to attend given their rivalry in UP. The press conference is scheduled for 3 pm.
Others likely to attend are the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Nationalist Congress Party’s D P Tripathi.
Neither of the Janata Dal-United’s two preeminent leaders, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Rajya Sabha member Sharad Yadav, are likely to attend. But party sources said this was because both had previously decided events to attend outside Delhi.
CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said his party will stay away from the press conference of Opposition parties that the Congress has convened because of “lack of coordination and consultation” among the participants about the agenda of the meeting.
According to Congress sources, the effort is to agree on a common Opposition agenda for the Budget session of Parliament, scheduled to begin in January end on the issues of demonetisation and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s charges of ‘personal corruption’ against the PM.
At the joint press conference, Sonia Gandhi and Banerjee are likely to raise the issue of the impact of demonetisation.
They are likely to point out that four out of five villages in India do not have banking facilities, that the share of counterfeit currency is a meagre 0.02% of the currency and that 90% of debit cards are used only to withdraw cash and not for purchases.
The Bengal CM has tweeted 200 times on the issue of the ‘note ban’, and has been gathering information from each of the party’s district units in Bengal on the impact of demonetisation.
The Congress will also try explain that Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with the PM at the end of the winter session of Parliament was in no way intended to dent Opposition unity.
The Congress will celebrate its foundation day on Wednesday. The party was founded on December 28, 1885. It isn’t known if Banerjee will be the chief guest at the event.
On the eve of the deliberations, Rahul Gandhi on Monday held a meeting of all Congress general secretaries and state Congress presidents at his home to assess the current political situation. He also addressed a public rally in Rajasthan in the afternoon.
Rahul Gandhi said the problems from the ‘note ban’ will not end on December 30, but the hardships will last at least six to seven months.
The Congress will hold protests across the country on demonetisation and demand that the PM come clean on allegations of ‘personal corruption’ from January 5.
PM, Jaitley meet Niti Aayog officials, experts to discuss Budget
The meeting is to cover job creation and skill development, agriculture and issues for the Budget, reports Indivjal Dhasmana.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will get views on the Budget for 2017-2018, job creation through skill development and other issues at a meeting with experts on Tuesday.
There will be 13 people — from the NITI Aayog, economists and others with expertise — who will make presentations.
The Aayog wanted to hold a pre-Budget meeting with the PM, but the latter’s office suggested the agenda be broadened to the overall economy, sources said.
The meeting is to cover job creation and skill development, agriculture and issues for the Budget, though participants would raise others, too.
The theme is ‘Economic policy reform, Road ahead.’
Those invited include Pulak Ghosh of the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore; Neelkanth Mishra of Credit Suisse; Vivek Dehejia, professor, Carleton University in Canada, and economist Surjit Bhalla.
Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya, CEO Amitabh Kant, its members, all five secretaries at the finance ministry, and Industrial Policy Cecretary Ramesh Abhishek would be there.
After a discussion, those present would be split into three groups. Then, the issues discussed will be presented before the PM in the evening.