Miffed NCP Gives Joint Opposition Meeting Called by Congress a Miss
Opposition parties extend cooperation beyond Parliament to take on the NDA govt; NCP upset with Congress betrayal charge, Sharad Yadav JDU faction attends anti-BJP meeting New Delhi: A meeting of 16 opposition parties convened by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday decided to extend their cooperation beyond the Parliament floor to across states, as they seek to mount a united fight against the BJP and the government led by it. The meeting, which a leader termed as the “broadest possible unity” of the opposition, saw one party boycotting it and a faction of another making an entry. The NCP, miffed with the Congress advertising how its two MLAs voted for the BJP in the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, stayed away on Friday.
The Sharad Yadav faction of the JDU, however, defied Nitish Kumar’s realignment with the BJP and attended the anti-BJP meeting, which is part of efforts to nurture a grand alliance against the NDA before the next Lok Sabhs polls. Though the NCP had decided to send Tariq Anwar, its Gujarat in charge Praful Patel later said the party was boycotting the meeting. The NCP camp, which had been maintaining that its two MLAs had split their votes between Ahmed Patel and the BJP nominee in the Rajya Sabha poll, said it was upset with the Congress charge. ET reported on Thursday that the Congress internal assessment of the poll pattern convinced it that both NCP votes went to the BJP candidate.
The Congress has all through suspected that the Praful Patel-managed NCP unit in Gujarat and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) were working on a Third Front in the state by trying to co-opt Hardik Patel’s outfit and now Shankarsinh Vaghela, in a ploy to split anti-BJP votes in the December assembly polls.
After the meeting, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad underplayed the NCP’s absence, saying: “Sharad Pawar ji is down with fever for
the past five days due to which he could not attend Parliament and the meeting.” JD(U) rebel MP Ali Anwar, deputed by Sharad Yadav to attend the meeting, told the meeting that the faction has three MPs and will fully cooperate with the opposition.
“On the advice of JD(U) parliamentary party leader Sharad ji I attended the meeting. The need of the hour is for all secular parties to unitedly resist the negative politics of BJP and the Modi government,” Ali told ET. Soon after, Ali was suspended by the Nitsh Kumarled JD(U). At the meeting, Sonia Gandhi thanked the parties for their united stand in the presidential and vice-presidential polls and urged them to extend the unity beyond Parliament.
According to sources, Mamata Banerjee said her party will be committed to cooperating with all in unitedly fighting the BJP — an indication that the TMC isn’t averse to working with even the CPM. CPM secretary Sitaram Yechury underlined the need for a united movement, but was noncommittal on a CPM-TMC joint action. Yechury later told the media, “we (the Opposition) have to first change the narrative, the political narrative, to take on the Modi government and the BJP.” CPI leader D Raja told the meeting his party “favoured unity of all secular parties”. Several parties talked about what they called concerns of farmers, youth, farmers, Dalits and Muslims “under the BJP-led government”. Issues such as unemployment, cow vigilantism, “subversion of institutions and misuse of investigating agencies” were also common concerns.
JD(U) rebel MP Ali Anwar told the meeting that the faction has three MPs and will fully cooperate with the opposition