Opposition leaders meet in Mumbai ahead of 'Save Constitution' march
A rally organised by some activists in Mumbai has turned into a staging ground of sorts for the opposition parties in developing a pan-India opposition unity ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
Opposition leaders Sharad Pawar, Sharad Yadav, D Raja, Hardik Patel, Omar Abdullah, Dinesh Trivedi and Sushilkumar Shinde met in Mumbai on Friday ahead of "Save the Constitution" march.
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had announced that he would be joining the march and had invited other parties as well.
The meeting took place at the south Mumbai home of leader of opposition in Maharashtra assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, people familiar with the matter said. NCP leaders Praful Patel and DP Tripathi and former parliamentarian Ram Jethmalani were also present, news agency PTI reported.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Friday said the 'Save Constitution' march here was an attempt to protect the "Constitution under threat".
"Since 1947, we have been deriving our identity from the Indian Constitution. We all have come here to send across a message that to save the country, the Constitution should be protected," he said.
The National Conference working president joined several Opposition leaders for the march which began from B R Ambedkar's statue near the state secretariat this afternoon.
Earlier, the leaders met at the official residence of Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil in South Mumbai.
Sharad Pawar (NCP), Sharad Yadav (rebel JD-U leader), D Raja (CPI), Hardik Patel (Gujarat's Patidar leader), Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamool Congress) and Sushilkumar Shinde (Congress) attended the meeting and joined the march.
NCP leaders Praful Patel and D P Tripathi and former MP Ram Jethmalani were also present. The Trinamool Congress deputed Trivedi, former railway minister, for the march.
'Save Constitution' march is being largely seen as an attempt to consolidate the anti-BJP forces ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Independent MP from Maharashtra Raju Shetti, convener of the march, said the participants gathered near the Ambedkar statue and began walking towards Shivaji Maharaj statue at the Gateway of India.
"This is a silent morcha (march). After reaching the Gateway (of India), they will stage a sit-in for some time."There will be no speeches," he said.
Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan and Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam also joined the march.
Meanwhile, the BJP is organising 'Tiranga Yatra' in the city this afternoon, apparently to counter the Opposition event.
"Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will address the gathering when it converges at Kamgar Maidan," Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar said, adding several ministers, MPs and MLAs will participate in the event.
The procession will start from Chaityabhumi, the memorial of BR Ambedkar in Dadar, before reaching Kamgar Maidan in central Mumbai.