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3-min read

Sonia Takes on Mantle to Stitch Grand Coalition, Bring on Board ‘Neutral Players’ TRS and BJD

Earnest efforts to reach out to all allies and potential ones have begun, sources said, with plans afoot to call a meeting of all the major stakeholders soon after results are declared on May 23.

Zeba Warsi | CNN-News18

Updated:May 15, 2019, 6:40 PM IST
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Sonia Takes on Mantle to Stitch Grand Coalition, Bring on Board ‘Neutral Players’ TRS and BJD
File photo of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
New Delhi: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has taken the lead in bringing all UPA allies, regional heavyweights part of the grand opposition and even the seemingly neutral players like Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal and K Chandrashekar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samiti together to stop the BJP from returning to power at the Centre.

Earnest efforts to reach out to all allies and potential ones have begun, sources said, with plans afoot to call a meeting of all the major stakeholders soon after results are declared on May 23.

Sonia Gandhi, who has taken a backseat in the last few years and let Rahul Gandhi manage alliance relations, has now taken the leadership role to cement the grand opposition tie-up after several attempts in the last year-and-half remained inconclusive.

Over the last few days, a select group of Congress leaders picked by Sonia Gandhi herself have been reaching out to regional parties over the phone for a possible meeting post the results, News18 has learnt.

Apart from the usual suspects like Chandrababu Naidu, Sharad Pawar, MK Stalin, whose presence at the meeting is certain, the Congress has also reached out to TRS, BJD as well as Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRCP.

While KCR has been making moves for a non-BJP, non-Congress third front, he has recently hinted that he would be open to joining the grand alliance, but would not want to cede all control to the Congress.

News18 had earlier reported that he has also pitched for Jagan Reddy’s entry into the alliance, but that would not be smooth sailing considering his arch rival Naidu is playing a key role in it.

On the other hand, the BJD, a former NDA ally, has remained completely non-committal so far, keeping everyone guessing about which side the party may lean post results.

Sources said that the Congress has taken the initiative in calling for this meeting as it does not want to lose any time in case the BJP does not get a majority. Talks, they said, are underway with all the major stakeholders, to get things in order and to be prepared for all post-poll scenarios.

UPA allies will begin meeting informally post the last phase of polling on May 19. “There will be several meetings conducted between different regional players to discuss possibilities post May 19. And then, once the result comes in, a joint meeting will be chaired by UPA chairperson on May 23 or May 24,” added the source.

The timing, particularly, is key as the opposition wants to get the first invite from President Ram Nath Kovind to stake claim to form the government ahead of the NDA.

Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu had last week met Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, asking him to call a meeting of all opposition parties two days before the result is announced so that all opposition leaders can regroup and discuss strategy.

Twenty-one political parties, who together had also moved the Supreme Court over increasing verification of voter slips, are planning to also send a letter to the President that will say that once the result is out, they would present letters of support to form a government.
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
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