Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi will chair a crucial meeting of the Opposition parties on Friday via video conferencing. The meeting will be attended by scores of Opposition leaders and Chief Ministers of non-NDA ruled states.
The meeting is seen as a part of the Congress' efforts to unite various Opposition parties to evolve a common strategy against the BJP-led NDA government.
According to reports, Sonia Gandhi has invited NCP chief Sharad Pawar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin and others for the meeting. Pawar, Uddhav, Mamata and Stalin have accepted the invitations. Reports say that at least 18 Opposition parties (NSP, Shiv Sena, BSP, RJD, Samajwadi Party, TMC, DMK, National Conference, JDS, Left parties, JMM and others) will attend the meeting virtually. However, the invitation has not been extended to Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
"Uddhav Thackeray will attend the meeting. NCP MP Supriya Sule confirmed that Sharad Pawar will be taking part," senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said. Congress is a constituent of the Sena-led coalition in Maharashtra.
Notably, in the just-concluded Monsoon Session of the Parliament, several Opposition parties displayed a show of unity when they took on the government to seek a discussion on the Pegasus snooping row, besides the farm laws and other issues.
Today's meeting also comes in the backdrop of the government demanding strict action against those indulging in unruly behaviour in Rajya Sabha during the passage of the Insurance Amendment Bill. The meeting also comes close on the heels of a similar dinner meet hosted by Congress leader Kapil Sibal, where top opposition leaders favoured unity among like-minded parties to defeat the BJP.
Meanwhile, Sibal has welcomed the party chief's initiative of bringing like-minded political parties together. He, however, has urged Sonia to strengthen her own party, saying no Opposition unity is possible without it. Sibal said that he along with other leaders of the 'Group of 23', who had written to the Congress chief for an organisational overhaul, will continue to demand reforms in the grand old party and keep pushing for its strengthening.