Saturday, 19 August, 2017

Sharad Pawar's NCP skips meeting called to discuss Opposition unity

Sharad Yadav backs Gujarat MLA who voted for Ahmed Patel, deepening JD-U rift Ahmed Patel's win unites Opposition, Sonia Gandhi calls for unity meeting amid JD(U) rift
Melinda Barton | 13 August, 2017, 11:50

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) did a no-show at the Opposition meeting convened on Friday evening here, even as Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar, a member of the breakaway Janata Dal (United) that owes allegiance to Sharad Yadav, participated in the discussions.

During the meeting which comprised leaders of 16 parties, Congress president Sonia Gandhi was authorised to form a small group to coordinate with like-minded parties on programmes to be organised in the next three months.

The leaders who did attend included the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, the National Conference's Omar Abdullah, the CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury, and the CPI's D Raja. Within hours of Ansari marking his presence at the meeting, the JD (U) suspended him from the parliamentary party. Earlier, six party MLAs had quit the party and resigned from the Assembly, days before the crucial Rajya Sabha elections in which Congress's Ahmed Patel narrowly defeated BJP's Balwantsinh Rajput, a Congress defector. NCP leader Praful Patel said his party made a decision to boycott the meeting as the Congress was accusing it of not supporting the Ahmed Patel when its legislators had cast their votes in his favour.

After expelling these eight MLAs, Congress is also in the process of initiating legal procedures to debar them from contesting elections for six years under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act. But we will not be attending it, "he said".

The Congress however played the incident down.

Following repeated defeats at the hands of the BJP in a series of elections and the saffron party's aggressive push to establish footprints in non-BJP ruled states through other means (such as in Bihar), the Opposition leaders are working around the "unite or perish" principle.