Fresh cracks emerged in the Opposition camp on Friday as the NCP stayed away from a meeting of the Opposition parties convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. JD(U) MP Ali Anwar Ansari, who had questioned his party’s decision to ally with the BJP, attended the meeting which decided to launch a joint campaign to take on the NDA government on issues like agrarian distress, growing unemployment and attack on Dalits and minorities. Hours later, the JD(U) suspended Ansari from the parliamentary party for attending the meeting.
The idea of the meeting, attended by 16 parties, was to take forward the Opposition unity to the streets. Joint public meetings by top Opposition leaders in various states are being planned. The TMC was represented by party chief Mamata Banerjee. The meeting was also attended by CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, National Conference’s Omar Abdullah, BSP’s S C Mishra, SP’s Naresh Agrawal, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva and RLD’s Ajit Singh. The leaders authorised Sonia to set up a coordination committee that will chalk out the programmes.
The NCP’s decision to stay away from the meeting is being linked to the Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls. Ghulam Nabi Azad said he had spoken to NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Friday morning. “Pawar told me he has been unwell… he would have attended,” Azad said.
However, NCP leader Praful Patel was quoted as saying by PTI that “even after we issued a whip to our MLAs (in Gujarat) and they voted for the Congress, why should we be accused of not supporting it? That is why we decided to boycott this meeting.”
Announcing Ansari’s suspension, JD(U)’s K C Tyagi targeted Sonia for trying to “encroach upon” the party by interfering in its internal matters. He added that Sharad Yadav had been invited for the August 19 national executive of the JD(U) and “it is expected that being a senior leader he maintains the decorum”.