New Delhi: A day ahead of the results of assembly polls in five states and the start of the Winter Session, senior leaders of over a dozen opposition parties including the Congress and the TMC met in the national capital on Monday as part of attempts to forge a united front to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) skipped the meeting.
The opposition meeting was coordinated by Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu and a number of opposition leaders were invited.
It was preceded by parleys among leaders of opposition parties with Naidu meeting West Bengal chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and DMK chief M K Stalin holding talks with AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Besides Banerjee, Kejriwal and Stalin, the meeting was attended among others by former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda, also a Janata Dal (Secular) leader, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and National Conference supremo Farooq Abdullah.
The others who took part were Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI leaders Sudhakar Reddy and D Raja, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha’s (JVM) Babulal Marandi.
Top Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot were also present.
Sources said the main agenda of the meeting is to chart the future course of action for forging opposition unity and a front of non-BJP parties to take on the BJP.
They said the opposition parties are also expected to chalk out their strategy to corner the government in Parliament tomorrow on issues like the Rafale jet deal, farmers distress and communal polarisation in the wake of growing calls for Ram temple construction.
Banerjee, after the meeting, said, “BJP is behaving like dictator, there should be campaign against this rule”.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi said, “The Goal is to defeat the BJP and protect India’s institutions”.
The BJP dubbed the opposition meet as a “photo opportunity” with its spokesperson Sambit Patra alleging it is a meeting of the “corrupt” to “save themselves”.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya took a dim view of the meeting and said Sunday the opposition parties should first declare a prime ministerial candidate before thinking of ousting the Modi government.
Earlier, the meeting was planned for November 22, but had to be deferred because of the Assembly polls in five states.
(With PTI inputs)