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From Stalin’s social justice platform, call for caste census and opposition unity by “throwing aside egos”.

Several opposition parties attended the first national conference of the “social justice federation” that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin proposed on Monday. Leaders of these parties made appeals for people to “set aside ego” and “fight together” to defeat the BJP, emphasising that the time for “fence-sitting” has passed.

The parties also made a strong case for a national caste census while in attendance at the “All India Federation for Social Justice,” mostly virtually. Stalin questioned reservations based solely on economic criteria without taking caste into account.

Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien, who was the first speaker, set the tone of the meeting by directly naming the BJD and YSRCP, which were also invited to the conference by the DMK but stayed away, as parties “which do not want to fight the BJP”.

In opposition to the BJP, there are still two or three political parties. Now is not the time to be undecided. I would respectfully ask Naveen Patnaik of the BJD to please come in. I know we keep saying it, but this is not a political forum, Jagan Reddy of the YSRCP. They are undoubtedly political platforms, but we shouldn’t be afraid to admit that since now is not the time to be undecided. The time to be binary is now, O’Brien remarked.

The conference’s theme was “Taking Forward the Struggle for Social Justice and a Joint National Programme for Social Justice Movement,” and among the leaders present were Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot (Congress), Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren (JMM), Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI General Secretary D Raja, Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yada

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