In what can be termed as an initial phase crack in the Opposition camp, National Congress Party (NCP) on Friday skipped the meeting of various opposition parties chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi. According to a report by The Indian Express, the meeting was called in order to launch a joint campaign against the NDA government on issues such as increasing unemployment, attacks on minorities, agrarian crisis and others.
The meeting was attended by as many as 16 parties from the country and was aimed at taking forward the Opposition unity to the streets. The report also suggests that various joint public meetings by top Opposition leaders in several states are being planned. Leaders including Mamata Banerjee from TMC, Sitaram Yechury from CPM, D Raja from CPI, Ajit Singh from RLD, Omar Abdullah from National Conference, Naresh Agrawa from SP and S C Mishra from BSP were in attendance. These leaders urged Sonia Gandhi to formulate a coordination committee that would come up with a detailed plan to launch the campaign.
However, one party that was missing from the meet was NCP. The reason behind NCP not being a part of the Opposition meeting is reportedly the recent Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls. According to Indian Express, Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad had spoken to NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Friday. “Pawar told me he has been unwell… he would have attended,” Azad said.
However, PTI quoted the NCP leader Praful Patel saying 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.”
Meanwhile, the Janata Dal United (JDU) MP Ali Anwar Ansari, who was not in support of Nitish Kumar’s decision to break the Grand Alliance and join the BJP camp attended the meeting but was later suspended by JDU from the parliamentary party for it.
Soon after announcing Ansari’s suspension, JDU’s KC Tyagi attacked Sonia Gandhi for trying to encroach upon the party by interfering it its internal issues. He also said that Sharad Yadav had been invited for the August 19 national executive of the JDU and said it is expected that being a senior leader he maintains the decorum.