NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The process to cobble together a united national front against the BJP at a time when the ruling party’s chips are down, picked up momentum on Monday with NCP chief Sharad Pawar calling a meeting of leaders of Opposition parties at his residence in Delhi on Tuesday. It will be co-chaired by Trinamool leader Yashwant Sinha.
The process was said to be ideated by poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who met Pawar on Monday, their second meeting in as many weeks. For the record though, Kishor said he will not be present at Tuesday’s meeting, adding he does not believe any third or fourth front can successfully challenge the BJP.
Tuesday’s meeting will be held under the banner of Rashtra Manch floated by Yashwant Sinha in 2018. Invites have been sent to leaders associated with the Manch, but informal invites have also gone to some other Opposition leaders. Those associated with Manch include Sanjay Singh (AAP), Manoj K Jha (RJD), Ghanshyam Tiwari (SP), Manish Tewari and Shatrughan Sinha (both Congress), Sharad Yadav and Arun Shourie.
Tewari and Shatrughan Sinha are unlikely to attend. They anyway need approval from the party high command to participate. Invites have also gone to CPI’s D Raja and CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury.“The invites have not been sent to political parties but to party leaders who have been associated with the Rashtra Manch in the past or have been associated with Pawar’s discussion on national scenarios. The discussion will be on the national agenda - economy, harmony, Covid-19 and leadership among others,” said a leader associated with the Rashtra Manch.
NCP minister and chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said the party’s national council will meet hours before Pawar’s interaction with Opposition leaders.“The country is going through a very difficult phase. There is huge anger against the BJP-led Central government. Various issues will be discussed in this meeting and the future strategy chalked out,” Malik said.
With the Congress failing to seize the initiative to build a rainbow coalition, analysts see Sharad Pawar trying to position himself as the hub of an alternative non-BJP, non-Congress front