With the Lok Sabha elections just an year away, non-Congress opposition leaders are actively engaging in one-to-one interaction to reach a consensus. The chorus is growing among the opposition leaders asking Congress to make more sacrifices to take other parties along with it. On Saturday, an array of opposition leaders shared dias with Congress in Karnataka during the swearing-in ceremony of Siddaramaiah. Among the leaders present on the occasion were National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and his Deputy Yadav, Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, NCP President Sharad Pawar, actor-politician Kamal Haasan, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI General Secretary D Raja attended the event.
Neglect Of Regional Satraps
However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav (Uttar Pradesh), Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Reddy, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao were conspicuous by their absence at the event. These states constitute around 225 Lok Sabha seats and are important as regional parties are strong in all these states except for Uttar Pradesh with 80 parliamentary seats. It is noteworthy to mention that Congress had not extended an invitation to Chandrasekhar Rao, Naveen Patnaik, Jagan Mohan and Arvind Kejriwal and BSP chief Mayawati.
Mehboob Mufti Warns Congress
Reacting to Delhi CM Kejriwal’s absence during the Karnataka swearing-in ceremony, PD chief Mufti today said that said Congress has to sacrifice more, otherwise there are other options. Mufti was indirectly hinting at a third front in case Congress fails to agree to the conditions of the regional parties. While the Congress has stopped short of voicing its support for Kejriwal in the AAP vs Centre row, Mehbooba Mufti supported the Aam Aadmi Party saying that it was a wake-up call for everyone as it can happen anywhere in the country. She said that while Karnataka has shown a ray of hope, whatever happened in Jammu and Kashmir is going to happen around the whole country as BJP does not want to have any opposition.
Nitish Backs AAP Against Centre
Delhi CM Kejriwal also got support from Bihar CM Nitish Kumar who has been trying to rally support of all opposition against the BJP. Kumar met the Delhi CM at the latter’s residence in New Delhi today and extended support to him in the AAP government’s ongoing tussle with the Centre over the control of administrative services including transfers and postings of Grade A officers. Bihar Deputy CM and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav also accompanied Kumar at the meeting.
Mamata Banerjee’s Formula
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has recently shared a tentative seat-sharing formula where she offered 200-odd Lok Sabha seats to Congress and urged that the Congress should let regional parties contest on the seats where they are strong. Banerjee also said that the Congress needs to make more sacrifices to adjust with regional parties. Former Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav had also supported Banerjee’s assessment saying that Congress should support regional parties in the areas where they are strong. While Banerjee recently met Bihar CM Kumar and Odisha CM Patnaik separately, Patnaik has openly said that no third front was discussed during the meeting.
Optics Won’t Work: Sibal
Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal on Sunday said Opposition unity requires much more than optics. “Siddaramaiah Swearing in Ceremony: Is this sign of Opposition Unity with a significant number of leaders present? My view: Opposition Unity requires much more than optics of this nature. Requires meeting of minds, a common agenda, sacrificing partisan interests,” he said. While Sibal is right in his assessment, it’s the Congress high command who needs to understand this first if the grand old party wants to defeat the mighty BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls where Narendra Modi will seek a third straight term as the Prime Minister.
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