A meeting of Opposition leaders from eight anti-BJP parties, hosted by the veteran leader and NCP president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday is being seen by political pundits as a beginning of an exercise to join forces to put up another political front to fight the saffron brigade.
The meeting participants – including Congress, AAP, Trinamool, NCP, Samajwadi Party - however downplayed any political angle to the meeting which was held under the aegis of Yashwant Singh's Rashtra Manch, an apolitical grouping with distinct anti-BJP views.
Lyricist Javed Akhtar was also present in the meeting.
“The meeting of Rashtra Manch lasted for 2.5 hours and many issues were discussed,” Yashwant Sinha, who had recently joined the Trinamool Congress.
Talking to the reporters, just after the meet, NCP leader Majeed Memon said, “This meeting was called by Rashtra Manch chief Yashwant Sinha & convened with the help of all founding members and workers of Rashtra Manch. This is being said that Sharad Pawar sahab is taking big political step & Congress has been boycotted. This is incorrect. It is being reported in media that this meeting was held by Sharad Pawar to unite anti-BJP political parties. This is totally incorrect. I want to clarify that this meeting took place at Pawar's residence but he didn't call this meeting.”
“In today's meeting, we discussed as to what role the Rashtra Manch can play to improve political, economic, social environment in the country. Suggestions were heard. Javed Sahab & Justice (retd) AP Shah also put forward their view. It was not a political programme,” Memon added.
Memom clarified, “Congress leaders Vivek Tankha, Manish Tewari, Kapil Sibal, Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi & Shatrughan Sinha were invited. Some of them expressed genuine difficulties. The perception that there is going to be a big Opposition group excluding Congress is wrong.”
“There is no political exclusion. We have invited the leaders who subscribe the ideology of Rashtra Manch in which leaders of all political parties could come. There is no political discrimination. I personally invited Congress members,” Memon said.
Talking in the same tune, Samajwadi Party, which was also part of the meet emphasized that one of the agendas of the meet was that ‘an alternate vision was needed for the country’. “Rashtra Manch has appointed Yashwant Sinha, who is the convenor, to set up a team to give a strong vision on various important issues focusing citizens of the country & organizations. Summary of today's meeting is that there is a need for preparation of an alternate vision in the country, that is strong to address issues related to the common man,” SP’s Ghanshyam Tiwari said.
Tiwari added, “Rashtra Manch will be a 'manch' that will include everyone who has vision for country's development & future, whether it's a political party, social organisation or a person. Rashtra Manch will also include those in India & abroad who think about the country.”