Amid growing criticism against the BJP-led government at the Centre, the Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar will host a meeting at his residence on Tuesday with various political party leaders, intellectuals, retired bureaucrats and lawyers to discuss the current scenario in India. The meeting has been convened under the banner of Rashtra Manch and the invitations have been jointly sent by both Pawar and Yashwant Singh, who left BJP and joined Trinamool Congress. The announcement was made after Pawar’s meeting with poll strategist Prashant Kishor who had also met the NCP chief two weeks ago in Mumbai. The Free Press Journal on Monday wrote that Pawar, who will be in the national capital till June 23, will meet opposition parties to discuss a road map against the Modi government.
Pawar, who is becoming a rallying point against BJP, has chosen not to restrict meeting of political parties but rope in thinkers and people from different sections of society to work out an action plan against the ruling party on a number of issues including polarization, communal divide, suppression of freedom of expression especially in the wake of action against Twitter and deteriorating financial position in the country. The meeting will also explore a joint fight against BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh polls and also in Lok Sabha elections slated for 2024.
Meeting will be attended by likes of Yashwant Sinha (Trinamool Congress), Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), D Raja (CPI), Pawan Verma, Sanjay Singh (AAP), Justice AP Singh, Javed Akhtar, KTS Tulsi, Karan Thapar, Ashutosh, Adv Majeed Memon and Vandana Chavan (NCP), former Chief Election Commissioner SY Qureshi, KC Singh, former Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha, Sudheendra Kulkarni, Colin Gonsalves, economist Arun Kumar, Ghanshyam Tiwari and Pritish Nandi. Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK is likely to be represented by Tiruchi Shiva.
Congress leaders Vibek Tankha and Kapil Sibal were also invited but they have reportedly declined so has the Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha.
NCP insiders said that Pawar was not keen to build a third front but in the midst of mobilizing like-minded parties and people from various sections who can effectively voice against the Modi government and fill up the vacuum. The election victory in Bengal has been the trigger for Pawar to bring together parties and intellectuals as the party insiders believe that it is possible to outsmart the BJP and its powerful poll machinery.
NCP Chief Spokesman and Maharashtra Minister of Minority Affairs told the Free Press Journal, ‘’Pawar has been quite keen to bring together opposition parties ahead of the next general elections. The participants at the maiden meeting will take stock of the present political, social and financial situation during the Modi government rule. More parties will be roped in in due course of time.’’ He said leaders will also discuss the strategy for the upcoming monsoon session of the Parliament.
In his reaction, the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee President Nana Patole said, ‘’In a democracy everyone has a right to do whatever they want to. We won't stop anyone. But there can be no front without the Congress. This was not the first time that Mr Pawar was trying to organize a third front.’’
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut made a strong case for an alliance of opposition parties at the national level saying that he had spoken to Pawar on this.