Rahul Gandhi dubs demonetisation as 'root cause of poverty' in India

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The absence of the NCP, a constituent of the UPA, from the meeting triggered speculations that it is no more in the good books of the Congress, particularly after the Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat.

Calling upon the party's state leaders and cadres to work together with unity, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said the party would win the assembly election in the state due in April-May 2018.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has called a meeting of 18 opposition parties on Friday, the last day of Parliament's monsoon session, to discuss the future course of action of the joint opposition and chalk out a strategy against the Modi government.

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NCP leader Praful Patel said even when his party had issued a three-line whip to its MLAs to vote for the Congress, leaders of that party were accusing it of not supporting Ahmed Patel. But NCP's uncertain relations with Congress and friction caused by only one of its two Gujarat MLAs voting for Patel seemed to have cast a shadow over the opposition talks. The Congress is convinced that the NCP has a standing offer of support to the BJP in Maharashtra in case the latter's coalition partner Shiv Sena walks out on the Fadnavis government. She made way for Manmohan Singh as India's prime minister when the Congress-led UPA won the Lok Sabha polls of 2004.

When asked if opposition parties are going to attend the rally called by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad on 27 August in Patna, Azad said that there was a discussion on it and all the opposition leaders who are keen on attending it will be doing so. The anti-BJP front, already seriously dented by the exit of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar last month, now appears to have shrunk from 18 to 16 members.

Having been dealt a body blow by Nitish Kumar, the opposition parties are now trying to regroup and put up a united fight against the Modi government. These leaders urged Sonia Gandhi to formulate a coordination committee that would come up with a detailed plan to launch the campaign. The RJD chief has extended an invitation to all the opposition leaders to attend this rally which could well mark the beginning of the opposition battle against a resurgent BJP. But their attempts have only helped BJP gain strength from one election to other. At the same time, the BJP is also making an all-out bid to destroy the credibility of the opposition parties and create fissures in their camp so that their unity moves do not fructify.