New Delhi: A hope of the UPA-III emerging an a national anti-BJP alliance from the dinner hosted by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar at his residence here on Wednesday stands shattered with tantrums of various players against each other.
While Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati clubbing the Congress with the BJP and accusing it of “targeting” the Muslims citing the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh slapping the National Security Act against Muslims for alleged cow slaughter, Trinamul Congress chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee is too upset with the Congress for the way its former Bengal PCC chief Adhir Ranjan Choudhry accused her party of the chit fund scam in the Lok Sabha.
She is also angry with the Congress for its leaders’ blunt refusal to include the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, wondering how a national opposition to the BJP will materialise if the opposition parties are themselves fighting against each other.
When Rahul Gandhi joined the dinner meeting at Pawar’s residence that was also attended by Kejriwal, Mamata hoped the ice will be broken between the two parties. Instead, a Congress leader told her that the local factors shall have to be taken into account in each state as she had herself ruled out any truck with the Congress in West Bengal.
Mamata has convened a meeting of all opposition parties in Delhi on February 26 to draw up a common minimum programme (CMP) for the alliance, but a parallel announcement by the Congress to hold its working committee meeting in Ahmedabad on the same day has created confusion.
Sources in Trinamul Congress said Mamata may shift the meeting for CMP to February 27 or 28 to ensure participation of the Congress, but they see prospects of not one alliance but two alliances emerging against the BJP as her consultations with various leaders show that many are not ready to give the leadership to the Congress.
Even before some understanding is reached to put the pre-poll alliance on firm footing, leaders have started flexing muscles on who would be its leader. If the Congress emerges as the largest party in the opposition camp, it will want anointment of Rahul Gandhi, but others are also active.
For instance, Sharad Pawar, who was planning political retirement, sees an opportunity he lost earlier when P V Narasimha Rao edged him out to be the Prime Minister as he has decided to seek election to the Lok Sabha from Madha constituency in western Maharashtra. He can be in the race even without contesting since he is already a Rajya Sabha member but his party has announced his candidature from Madha.