NEW DELHI: Representatives of a clutch of Opposition parties attended a meeting hosted at NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s residence here on Tuesday, but the sense was a national front cannot be cobbled together to take on the BJP if the Congress is out of the frame.
The meeting, the participants later claimed, was non-political. Among the attendees were leaders from the Trinamool Congress, Left Front, Samajwadi Party, RLD, National Conference and Aam Aadmi Party. The Congress was not represented as some of its invited leaders excused themselves on personal grounds.
Called under the banner of the Rashtra Manch floated by former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, the meeting discussed a wide array of issues, including the ongoing farmer agitation, spiralling fuel prices, unemployment, Covid situation and the economic slowdown.
“The meeting was called by Yashwant Sinha, not Sharad Pawar. This was not a political meet. We called all like-minded people. We also invited Congress leaders. I called Vivek Tanha, Manish Tiwari, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Shatrughan Sinha for the meeting. They couldn’t come. It’s not true that we didn’t invite the Congress,” said NCP leader Majid Memon.
The centrality of the Congress to be part of the national front, since it is in direct fight with the BJP in 200 Lok Sabha seats and is in a tough contest in 100 other seats, came up for discussion.
‘Third Front not discussed in meet’
The leaders talked about need to have a blueprint on key issues to counter BJP’s narrative and Sinha is expected talk to other opposition parties on the matter in coming months.
Others who attended the meeting included retired Justice AP Shah, former ambassador KC Singh and lyricist Javed Akhtar. Pawar meeting with poll strategist Prashant Kishor ahead of this meeting created a buzz that he is trying to get all like-minded parties together against the BJP.
“I don’t believe a Third or Fourth Front could emerge as a successfully challenge to the current dispensation,” Kishor had said after a speculation of him being involved in the entire exercise.
Sources said that Pawar known for his negotiating skills will not discuss such important issues in such meetings where none of the important leaders of political parties were present.
“It has nothing to with the Third Front and when that will happen, it won’t be like in this format of some 20-25 people discussing it,” said an opposition party leader.