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Who's Your Leader? BJP Brings Up Elephant in the Room as Oppn Holds First 2019 Meeting Today

The meeting, orchestrated by Chandrababu Naidu, is scheduled to be attended by Rahul Gandhi, MK Stalin, Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and Sharad Pawar.

Updated:December 10, 2018, 10:58 AM IST
New Delhi: A host of regional leaders will arrive in the national capital on Monday as the opposition holds its first meeting to cobble up an anti-BJP front before 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The meeting, orchestrated by TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu, is scheduled to be attended by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, DMK leader MK Stalin, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar among others.

Apart from brainstorming over a possible alliance in 2019, the leaders will also discuss a strategy to corner the BJP in Parliament’s Winter Session, the start of which coincides with the counting of votes in five states on Tuesday.

However, one sticky issue that will likely be avoided is the question of the front’s leadership and consensus on a PM candidate for next year’s general elections. While regional leaders have made their national ambitions known, the “big brotherly attitude” of the Congress despite its weak electoral report card has reportedly ticked off leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati. The latter two are yet to confirm their attendance at Monday’s meeting.

While the opposition parties were hoping to put the leadership issue on the backburner for now, the BJP was quick to remind it of the same. Mocking the show of unity, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said the bloc should first declare a prime ministerial candidate.

"It's really good to see opposition parties trying to forge an alliance to fight against us. But, first let them declare their prime ministerial candidate, then they should dream of fighting against us and ousting us," he said.

"We have Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is their PM candidate?" he added.

Among other issues that could be discussed at the meeting are countering the BJP’s Ram Mandir narrative, alleged attempts at communal polarisation and the economic policies of the Modi government.

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