Modi calls for consensus on India’s G20 presidency at all-party meet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday urged leaders of political parties to come together for the government’s plans for the G20 presidency, calling the year-long period when India will head the important international bloc as an opportunity to showcase the country’s success story.

The Prime Minister was addressing an all-party meeting at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where he appealed the leaders to build a political consensus over the G20 agenda, which, he said, was “not for one individual”. According to a leader present in the meeting, “PM said he called this meeting not as an individual but as all of us are stakeholders in hosting this. He said ‘this is for India. And we seek all of your support’.”

Modi said the G20 presidency duration will also attract a large number of foreign visitors and presents an opportunity to boost tourism and local economies, the ministry of external affairs said in a statement. He added that India’s G20 Presidency belongs to the entire nation, and is a unique opportunity to showcase India’s strengths to the entire world, according to the MEA statement.

The PM also pointed out that the G20 Presidency would help showcase parts of India beyond the conventional big metros, thus bringing out the uniqueness of each part of the country, the statement said. In his concluding remarks, the leaders quoted above said, Modi added that “our joint efforts” will be key for the presidency, which has come to India for the first time.

All leaders welcomed India’s first G20 presidency, which officially began from December 1. Some opposition leaders stressed on the need for the government to follow a national agenda. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, who reminded the PM how India hosted the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit during Indira Gandhi’s tenure and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2008, said the G20 presidency should be used to press China on the border issues and trade imbalance.

Kharge also suggested that the presidency could be leveraged to secure New Delhi’s permanent membership in the UNSC.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee too asked the government to maintain a national agenda. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the credibility of India’s G20 theme — “One Earth, One Family, One Future” — crucially depends upon “creating a society and a political structure which is based on equality” but the “alarming levels of polarisation destroys the foundations of the declaration announced by the PM.”

CPI leader D Raja wanted to know how the government would take up issues facing the “Global South”. Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin offered full support and said: “We will show India’s greatness to the world. I thank our PM on behalf of Tamil Nadu’s people for this opportunity.”