Congress president Sonia Gandhi has organised a lunch for all the opposition parties at the Parliament House on Friday. While the meeting will be attended by several party leaders, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal is missing from the list of invitees, IE reported. Also, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar will reportedly skip it. The aim of the meeting is to informally discuss a joint candidate for President to take on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s nominee, according to ANI reports. Interestingly, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, who has been a contender for the post, will be in attendance. JD(U) leader KC Tyagi has said, “In the meeting called by Sonia Gandhi tomorrow, Sharad Yadav will represent JDU as Nitish ji is busy in Government programmes.”
The Opposition parties’ meeting will likely be held in the Parliament House complex, where leaders who will attend include West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury, and RJD chief Lalu Prasad. According to an IndianExpress report, invitations have been sent to JD(U), CPI, CPI-M, SP, DMK, NCP, RJD and TMC besides regional parties. The Delhi CM has not been invited, maybe because he has not participated in any joint opposition programmes, IE reported.
From the Congress, Sonia Gandhi’s son and deputy Rahul Gandhi will attend as will former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior party leaders. Congress, the main opposition party, has sought a larger unity among non-NDA parties ahead of the presidential election which could be taken forward to the upcoming assembly polls in states like Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, and also the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Also, it has been making efforts to bring arch political rivals in Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, together on a common opposition platform ahead of the presidential poll.
Ahead of Friday’s meeting, a series of meetings have already taken between these leaders on the issue of putting up a joint opposition candidate to take on the official NDA nominee.