The Congress on Tuesday evening led a meeting of the opposition parties to decide a common floor strategy in the Lok Sabha, but key regional parties stayed away.
Lok Sabha members of the Congress and its pre-poll allies and those of the Left parties attended the meeting. Besides Congress President Rahul Gandhi, leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the Nationalist Congress Party, the National Conference, the Viduthalai Chirithaigal Katchi (VCK), the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) attended the meeting. These parties together comprise a bloc of 93 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
Another meeting of these parties would be held on Wednesday morning to reach a common strategy for an all-party meeting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi called later in the day. The Congress is yet to decide who from the party will attend the PM's meeting.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had excused herself from the PM’s scheduled meeting. In a letter, she asked the Centre to prepare a white paper on “one nation, one election”, instead of doing it “hurriedly”.
Modi has invited the heads of all the political parties that have at least one member either in the Lok Sabha or in the Rajya Sabha for a meeting on June 19 to discuss several issues, including the “one nation, one election” idea, celebration of 75 years of the Independence in 2022, and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year. It will be followed by a dinner-meeting with all the MPs on June 20.
Sources in the opposition said they will not oppose the election of BJP’s Om Birla as the Speaker. However, there is not clarity as yet on who could be the deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha. It is possible the BJP offers this to one of the non-UPA regional parties.