Updated: December 15, 2021 7:50:05 am
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday met senior leaders of some opposition parties, including NCP chief Sharad Pawar, in a bid to send out a message that she is serious about keeping opposition parties together. The effort to reach out comes at a time the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are knocking on its turf in many states, including poll-bound Goa.
The meeting came on a day West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee was in Goa and Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao met his Tamil Nadu counterpart and DMK chief M K Stalin, reviving talks of attempts to forge an anti-BJP front.
Besides Pawar, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, DMK’s T R Baalu, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah were among those who attended the meeting. Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Kharge were also present.
Sources said the Trinamool Congress was not invited to the meeting. A senior Congress leader said TMC would not have attended it anyway, given that its leaders have not been attending meetings called by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge for floor coordination in Parliament.
Sources said the leaders discussed finding ways to resolve the logjam in Rajya Sabha over suspension of 12 Opposition MPs. There was also an agreement that the parties should strive to keep the Opposition together to take on the BJP, it is learnt. The leaders agreed that they should meet more regularly.
Sonia had last convened a meeting of Opposition leaders in August. In the last few days, the Congress chief has shown signs of getting more active. Over the weekend, she travelled to Jaipur to attend a party rally, something she has not done for a while. On Monday, she spoke in Lok Sabha after a long gap and raised the issue of a “misogynistic” passage in CBSE class X Board examination paper.
Sonia will also be present at a party event to mark the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh liberation war.
In the meeting, sources said, the Opposition leaders discussed in detail about the logjam in Parliament. Pawar is learnt to have said that he has already sought time with Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to discuss the issue. It was then decided that he and Kharge can meet Naidu together, but sources said Naidu has already told Pawar that revocation of the MPs’ suspension is not in his hands.
Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Varanasi and his donning of “saffron robes” also came up for mention by some leaders but there was no detailed discussion.
There will be more such meetings in coming days to discuss the issue of forging Opposition unity in states, and Pawar could be present in those meetings, sources said.
Meanwhile, the Congress on Tuesday issued a whip to its Rajya Sabha members to be present in the House on Wednesday, PTI reported. Party chief whip Jairam Ramesh said “very important issues will be taken up for discussion in Rajya Sabha”.
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