Politics

Sharad Pawar calls opposition meeting on Tuesday, excludes Congress – Business Standard

With former finance minister Yashwant Sinha by his side and political strategist as his sherpa, veteran political leader with across-the-board acceptability, Sharad Pawar, has launched a new political initiative to unite the non-opposition with a view to defeating the Narendra Modi-led (BJP).

The NCP supremo has invited all non-political parties to his Delhi residence for a meeting on Tuesday that could set off a round of ‘conclave’ that was a dominant feature of Indian in the decades of the 1980s and led to a new alignment of forces that forced the out of its dominant political position for many years to come.

Pawar’s initiative pointedly excludes the Congress. While the move is not without its internal political contradictions, “much more than Narendra Modi, it is the Congress that needs to worry”, said a former Congress chief minister.

Meanwhile, Congress President has called for a meeting of party officebearers to discuss ways to address multiple challenges, including high petrol prices.

has had two rounds of meeting with Pawar. In the first three-hour round, among other things, the two discussed the possibility of the Pawar-led (NCP) and the joining up for the Brihannmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections. When a senior Congress leader called on Pawar in (who was convalescing after surgery of his mouth), he said the NCP leader conceded to him that a large opposition grouping that excluded the Congress would not be strong enough to challenge the BJP). But apparently Kishor told him otherwise and Congress leaders are homing in on Prashant Kishore’s influence on Pawar to turn him away from the Congress.

Within days of that meeting, Pawar is making his moves, surefooted and agile. The expectation is that even if senior leaders like K Chandrashekhara Rao (Telangana CM and leader of the TRS), MK Stalin (Tamil Nadu CM and leader of the DMK) and (West Bengal CM and leader of the TMC) are unable to attend, they will send representatives senior enough to indicate their engagement. It is not yet clear if the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), an ally of the BJP till recently, has been invited. Sources advising the SAD said the upcoming assembly elections in Punjab will not yield the kind of decisive victory the Congress is seeking and the SAD would like to keep its options open if it has to approach the BJP for help in forming a government.

The CPI (M)-led Left Front has an alliance with Sharad Pawar’s NCP in CPI(M) General Secretary and Pawar have been in close touch. But Mamata Banerjee’s TMC and the Left parties are bitter rivals in Bengal. Can the two groups sink their differences in the large cause of unity against the BJP? This will be evident on Tuesday, but many Congress leaders think this is not a deal-breaker when opposition to Modi is involved. The group that is most on the back foot is the Congress. Leaders were brave in public but conceded privately that the initiative had been taken and the Congress was nowhere in the picture: “In the given situation, there is not much he (Pawar) can do)” said a Congress leader. “But the meeting is going to be crucial. And it will lay bare before the world, the irrelevance of the Congress leadership.”

Pawar’s lieutenants had, some months ago, flagged the issue of the leadership of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) wondering why the Congress was doing nothing to make UPA a serious and active vehicle of the opposition. His supporters had suggested that Pawar might make a better chairman of the UPA.

Some months ago, before the West Bengal elections, Banerjee had written to all opposition parties, including the Congress, imploring that they come together to jointly oppose the “undemocratic” of the BJP. The letter met with a tepid response. But Pawar’s initiative, given his seniority and his capacity to negotiate, might not meet the same fate. “It is the Congress that should have made this move. It is tragic that we let someone else do it,” said a Congress leader.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like