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Opposition to talk economy, unemployment at PM meet on Wednesday

Chiefs of Opposition parties, or their respective representatives, are set to use the opportunity of a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday by going beyond the five-point agenda the government has suggested. Opposition leaders plan to flag issues related to the poor state of the economy, increasing unemployment, the drought situation in large parts of the country, and the situation in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).

While the Congress is yet to decide if party chief Rahul Gandhi or someone else from the party will attend Modi’s meeting with chiefs of political parties, Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee has decided to skip the meeting, while Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M) chief Sitaram Yechury and several others will attend. The Congress will have another strategy meeting with its allies on Wednesday.

The Modi government has suggested the following five-point agenda for the meeting — ways to improve productivity of Parliament, ‘one country, one election’, building of a New India in the 75th year of Independence, programmes and commitments to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, and development of aspirational districts. In her letter to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, Banerjee said the matter of ‘one country, one election’ required consultations with constitutional experts, election experts, and, above all, party members.

“I would request you to kindly circulate a White Paper on the subject to all political parties, inviting their views by providing adequate time. If you do so, we will be able to give concrete suggestions on this important subject,” said Banerjee.

Banerjee will skip the meeting, as she did the NITI Aayog meeting on Saturday. Banerjee-led TMC has 22 MPs in the Lok Sabha, and is a joint No. 4 along with YSR Congress Party, in terms of seats behind the Bharatiya Janata Party (303 seats), Congress (52 seats), and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (23 seats).

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