New Delhi: NCP Chief Sharad Pawar is hosting a gathering of leaders of the “Rashtra Manch” at his residence in New Delhi. Rashtra Manch is a political action group that was set up by former union minister Yashwant Sinha in 2018. The gathering will be attended by NCP’s Majeed Memon and Samajwadi Party’s Ghanshyam Tiwari among others and is likely to see discussions around strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.Also Read - '3rd or 4th Front Can't Challenge...': Prashant Kishor Ahead of Gathering at Sharad Pawar's Residence

Pawar had on Monday met political strategist Prashant Kishor at his residence. This meeting lasted for more than two hours, with it further fuelling speculation that a Third Front could be in the works to take on the BJP. However, it has been clarified that that meeting is not about hosting a “third front” and is only a gathering of politicians and intellectuals to “debate current events”, reported NDTV. Kishor, who was instrumental in the Trinamool Congress’ victory in the recent West Bengal assembly election, had a meeting with Pawar over lunch in Mumbai on June 11 as well.

Here are the live updates from the big meeting:

7.30 PM: Rashtra Manch will be a ‘manch’ that will include everyone who has vision for country’s development & future, whether it’s a political party, social organisation or a person. Rashtra Manch will also include those in India & abroad who think about the country: Ghanshyam Tiwari, SP

7.00 PM: Rashtra Manch has appointed Yashwant Sinha, who is the convenor, to set up a team to give a strong vision on various important issues focussing citizens of the country & organisations: Ghanshyam Tiwari, Samajwadi Party

6.45 PM: This meeting was called by Rashtra Mach chief Yashwant Sinha and convened with the help of all founding members and workers of Rashtra Manch. This is being said that Sharad Pawar sahab is taking big political step and Congress has been boycotted. This is incorrect: Majeed Memon, NCP

5.15 PM:

4.15 PM: CPI MP Binoy Viswam arrives at NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s residence for a meeting of Opposition leaders. “It is a platform of all secular, democratic Left forces against a most hated government that has failed. The country needs a change. The people are up for a change,” he says.

4.00 PM: TMC leader Yashwant Sinha, Lyricist Javed Akhtar, Rashtriya Lokdal President Jayant Chaudhary and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah arrive at the residence of NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

What we know about the gathering so far:

  1. NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik said that in the first round, Pawar will meet leaders of a few political major parties, media persons, lawyers, social activists, retired judges and bureaucrats, analysts, and other prominent experts from different fields at his New Delhi home on Tuesday morning.
  2. The political leaders would include Yashwant Sinha of the Trinamool Congress, Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party, Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, D. Raja of the CPI, former JD-U leader Pawan Verma, and others.
  3. Besides, he will also meet prominent personalities like Justice A.P. Singh (retd), Javed Akhtar, K.T.S. Tulsi, Karan Thapar, Ashutosh, A. Majeed Memon, Vandana Chavan, MP, S.Y. Qureshi, K.C. Singh, Sanjay Jha, Sudheendra Kulkarni, Colin Gonsalves, Ghanshyam Tiwari and Pritish Nandy.
  4. However, the NCP has not indicated whether its allies in Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi government – Shiv Sena and Congress, which are currently in a friction mode – would attend Tuesday’s Opposition parties gathering or not.
  5. Today’s gathering starts months after Pawar had promised earlier this year to unite all opposition parties and present a formidable front against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before the next parliamentary elections.
  6. Yashwant Sinha later tweeted that Pawar is hosting a gathering of the ‘Rashtra Manch’, a political action group floated by the former BJP leader in 2018 that targeted the Modi government’s policies.
  7. Kishor, who was part of the BJP’s 2014 Lok Sabha campaign, later handled the campaign of several opposition parties like the TMC, AAP, and the DMK.
  8. Meanwhile, Prashant Kishor has ruled out speculations about him joining any opposition front to tackle BJP in the 2024 general elections. Speaking to NDTV, Kishor clarified the rumours and said that he doesn’t believe a “Third or Fourth Front” could emerge as a successful challenge to the “current dispensation”. He went on to say that the ‘tried and tested’ Third Front model is archaic.

(With agency inputs)