New Delhi, Mar 13: Forming a unified anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition seems to be a tricky affair as cracks have already begun to appear in the Opposition. While Congress leader Sonia Gandhi will host a dinner today which is likely to be attended by leaders of 17 opposition parties, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar too plans for a separate meet of opposition leaders this month.
Notably, Sharad Pawar will attend the dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi and the NCP will also invite the Congress to the discussion of opposition leaders. However, the proposed separate shows by the two partners of the United Progress Alliance or UPA give the impression of a tussle within the opposition to claim leadership of the anti-BJP coalition for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
As many as 17 opposition parties have confirmed attendance for the dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi. Jeetan Ram Manjhi of Bihar and Babulal Marandi of Jharkhand will also attend the meet. However, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee is “pre-occupied” and won’t attend the Congress’s dinner. TMC MP Sudip Bandopadhyay is likely to represent her at the meeting.
“The NCP and Pawar feel that without the Congress, there cannot be any opposition front against the BJP. So even the Congress has been invited to the meet,” a top NCP leader told reporters. The meeting called by Pawar is likely to be held on either March 27 or 28.
Both the TMC and the NCP earlier announced support to a ‘federal front’ of various regional parties. Mamata Banerjee launched consultations with regional parties to form a ‘federal front’ and even offered its leadership to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. Last week, NCP leader Praful Patel met Mamata Banerjee and extended his party’s support to a ‘federal front’.
Banerjee is also expected to hold a meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar in Delhi on March 27 and 28. KCR, as Rao is popularly known, mooted the idea of a third front for 2019 Lok Sabha polls and offered to lead it. He will soon begin a ‘Delhi Yatra’ to meet heads of various regional parties and Left Parties to muster support for his idea of a Non-Congress and Non-BJP coalition for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.