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Sonia Gandhi Charts Course For Future Front Against Modi, Takes First Misstep

Pouring cold water over Congress' celebration-cum-strategy meet was old ally from Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar, who skipped the meet despite Sonia Gandhi inviting him.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18pallavighcnnibn

Updated:August 11, 2017, 9:32 PM IST
Sonia Gandhi Charts Course For Future Front Against Modi, Takes First Misstep
From Left to Right: Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mamata Banerjee, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi at the Opposition meet in Delhi on Friday. (Photo: Umesh Sharma/News18)
New Delhi: Enjoying a high after Ahmed Patel’s victory in the Rajya Sabha election, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday called an opposition meet to chalk out the future course against the BJP, but received a setback before even taking the first step towards her plan.

The next big challenge for the Opposition will be to provide an alternative to the PM Narendra Modi, who has been bolstered now that Amit Shah too has made his entry into parliamentary politics. For precisely this reason, Congress, as the main opposition party, called an end of the session meeting of like-minded parties.

However, pouring cold water over the celebration-cum-strategy meet was old Congress ally from Maharashtra, NCP and its leader Sharad Pawar, who skipped the meet despite Sonia Gandhi inviting him.

Sources within NCP said they are upset at the Congress over its allegations that none of their MLAs voted for Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls. They decided to boycott in protest.

But Congress members insist they know for a fact that none of the NCP legislators voted for Patel, despite the claim made by their official spokesperson that at least one MLA has voted in favour of Sonia Gandhi’s close aide.

Congress sources said they are aware that NCP does not want to antagonise the BJP as it is in power, both at the Centre as well as in Maharashtra. “There are allegations against many NCP leaders, including Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel. So no one wants to take on the BJP,” a senior Congress member told News18.

If the NCP does decide to move away from the Congress, it would be a boon for the BJP. Not only would it be yet another blow to Opposition unity, it could help the party in Maharashtra, where its ties with Shiv Sena are showing signs of strain.

NCP’s absence notwithstanding, Sonia Gandhi, who chaired the meet, made it clear that she was looking at forming a formidable alliance. The Congress president had invited rebel JD(U) MP Ali Anwar, and he did turn up, much to the chagrin of Nitish Kumar. Anwar was the first to object to the BJP-JD(U) alliance in Bihar.

The bonhomie between Mamata Banerjee and Sonia Gandhi was evident at the meeting. Congress realises that it would need TMC, which can be a formidable ally as it still enjoys a strong presence in Bengal.

Side-by-side with the TMC were the Left parties, who seemed to be reconciling to the alignments in national politics. Sitaraman Yechury admitting that the need of the hour is to provide a correct alternative to the current regime and form an anti-BJP front.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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