New Delhi: At a time there is a tearing hurry among Opposition stalwarts to assume the ‘leadership’ of a broad anti-BJP front, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar can’t be trusted to silently watch the proceedings from the sidelines.
Throwing his hat in the ring and trying to upstage KCR who is engaged in a similar overreach, Pawar on Friday called a meeting of the opposition parties in the Capital on March 27 and 28. He even rushed lieutenant Praful Patel to Kolkata to invite TMC leader Mamata Banerjee for the meeting. Mamata, who likes to play along with Pawar, has confirmed her participation in the meeting.
Immediately after the meeting, Mamata said that the Modi government has unleashed a “super emergency” on the country and she would do everything in her power to unite all the anti-BJP forces to defeat the saffron party in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Regarding his talks with Mamata, Praful Patel said, “A beginning has to be made. She (Banerjee) was very happy. She said the leadership should not be discussed, the idea is to provide a formidable alternative to the government at the Centre. Now, there will be a series of meetings.’’
Sharad Pawar has clearly taken a cue from Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao who has recently floated the idea of an anti-BJP front which will include regional satraps. On March 3, KCR had said, “There is a serious need to bring change in national politics. Seventy years have passed since Independence and out of those 70 years, 64 years were ruled by either the BJP or the Congress. Even after 70 years, people are suffering and they don’t even have water to drink.”
“It can be a third front or anything. What is required at the time is change and it will emerge at the appropriate time. Change has to happen. It is unification of the people of India and not just some political parties. And this will surely be minus the BJP and the Congress, no doubt about that,” said KCR.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is also hosting a dinner for opposition leaders in Delhi next week. Pawar also has one leg in the UPA camp but has reservations about Rahul Gandhi. By hitching his wagon to the anti-BJP front, he is merely adding to his bargaining chips vis-a-vis the Congress.