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M K Stalin, Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar may attend Sonia Gandhi’s Opposition meet

NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and the Trinamool Congress are likely to take part in a virtual interaction with Congress President Sonia Gandhi on August 20.

Confirming that the Congress leadership has convened a virtual meet next Friday, possibly in a bid to unite non-BJP parties, a senior DMK leader said, “We are expecting an official invite today (Friday). Probably it will be received by his (Chief Minister’s) office.”

The DMK chief has been following in the footsteps of his late father M Karunanidhi in inviting the Congress leaders to the state on various occasions and has always painted a picture of unity with them.

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena confirmed that the Maharashtra chief minister will attend the meeting. “Thackeray will attend the meeting,” Sena leader Sanjay Raut told PTI. NCP MP Supriya Sule, too, confirmed that Pawar will take part in the meeting.

Congress is part of the Sena-led ruling coalition in Maharashtra, along with the Nationalist Congress Party.

In Bengal, an aide close of TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the party is also “likely to join the meeting”.

The Congress President has called the meet in the midst of a political row over alleged phone tapping of opposition leaders, judges and journalists and rowdy scenes in Parliament. While the agenda of the meeting is not known, it is expected to discuss a raft of issues irking opposition parties besides helping build bridge to forge opposition unity.

The DMK, the NCP and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha are among parties that have been invited, according to multiple sources. Banerjee, too, had last month, during a trip to Delhi, made a pitch for opposition unity.

The Bengal Chief Minister had, besides meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other central ministers, held parleys with Congress’ Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Kamal Nath, Anand Sharma and Abishek Manu Singhvi.

She also met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and DMK leader Kanimozhi, besides making telephone calls to NCP chief Sharad Pawar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad.

On Thursday, the TMC came out against the suspension of the Congress’ Twitter handles, displaying what many saw as signs of a rekindling of a spirit of opposition unity. Banerjee’s advisor and political campaign pundit Prashant Kishor has also been reaching out to various opposition leaders, while Pawar has also held a meeting with eminent persons and opposition leaders.

Political analysts see these meetings as essential stepping stones to forging unity among political parties ahead of a raft of state assembly elections including in Uttar Pradesh, in the next three years leading to national elections in 2024.

Source: Press Trust of India

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