The opposition parties are likely to hold a coordination meeting on December 10, a day before the Winter Session of Parliament begins. Both West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu are expected to be in the capital on that day.
Leaders of various Opposition parties are in talks with each other for the meeting, which, they hope, will help them firm up their strategy for the Winter Session and also lead to a meaningful alliance for the Lok Sabha elections next year.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar is learnt to have reached out to National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, while DMK chief M K Stalin is said to be coordinating with former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.
Sources said Naidu and Banerjee, who met in Kolkata last week, have indicated their availability for a meeting next month, before the Winter Session. In recent weeks, Naidu also met Congress president Rahul Gandhi, National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and BSP supremo Mayawati among others, in an attempt to tie up an Opposition alliance for the Lok Sabha elections.
There may also be an assemblage of Opposition chief ministers in Chennai on December 16, for the unveiling of the statue of former DMK chief M Karunanidhi. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is also expected to attend the event.
Much of the Opposition’s strategy will depend on the results of the ongoing Assembly elections, scheduled to be declared on December 11. The Opposition parties, which includes the Congress, Trinamool Congress, TDP, National Conference, Samajwadi Party, NCP and Left, are also hoping that some of their internal differences would be resolved by then.
Earlier, it was reported that the Opposition meeting would take place on November 22. But, according to sources, many parties felt that the date was set without sufficient consultation. “The meeting will have to be scheduled keeping everybody’s convenience in mind. November 22 was not possible because Mulayam Singh Yadav’s pre-scheduled birthday celebrations had not been taken into account. Also, the BSP is still not sharing a platform with the Congress, and the party is very crucial for the Opposition block,” said a source.
Some of the issues that are likely to come up during the meeting next month are the use of the CBI and ED against Opposition parties — both Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have withdrawn general consent to the CBI for investigating cases in their states — besides the “ripple effect” of demonetisation and the “destruction of institutions” by the BJP-led government.