Ahead of Opposition conclave, Pawar meets Prashant Kishor

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

A day before hosting Opposition leaders at his Delhi residence, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Monday met election strategist Prashant Kishor, triggering speculation that a Third Front is taking shape ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

Mr Pawar's meeting with Mr Kishor — their second in the past 10 days — intensified speculation of a front where regional parties like NCP and Trinamool Congress will play a key role in taking on the Narendra Modi government, without according primacy to the Congress.

Mr Kishor, however, denied that Tuesday’s meeting was being convened at his suggestion and clarified that he would not be part of it.

The proposed meeting will take place under the banner of Rashtra Manch, a front founded by former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, who is now a Trinamool Congress member, to discuss the “national scenario”.

“We shall have a meeting of the Rashtra Manch tomorrow at 4 p.m. Sri Sharad Pawar has kindly agreed to host the meeting at his place,” Mr. Sinha tweeted.

The Congress refused to comment on the development though it is an ally of Mr. Pawar’s NCP and the Shiv Sena in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra since November 2019.

Though the list of invitees was not immediately clear sources said the Manch had sent invitations to prominent Opposition leaders from across the spectrum including Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), D. Raja (CPI), Sanjay Singh (Aam Aadmi Party), Manoj Jha (RJD) and Congress parliamentarians like Manish Tewari, Vivek Tankha and Kapil Sibal.

“The following prominent political leaders and eminent persons from different sections of society will attend the meeting to discuss the current scenario in our country. Yashwant Sinha, Pawan Verma, Sanjay Singh, D. Raja, Farooq Abdullah, Justice A.P. Singh, Javed Akhtar, K.T.S. Tulsi, Karan Thapar, Ashutosh, Adv. Majeed Memon, Vandana Chavan MP, S.Y. Qureshi former CEC, K.C. Singh, Sanjay Jha, Sudheendra Kulkarni, Colin Gonsalves, Arun Kumar, economist, Ghanshyam Tiwari and Pritish Nandi,” tweeted Maharashtra Minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik.

However, sources told The Hindu that neither Left leaders like Mr. Yechury and Mr. Raja nor the Congress MPs would be attending the meeting.

“NCP's Majeed Memon has been calling leaders but there is no clarity on the purpose of the meeting, participants or what it sets out to do. Also, will we attend in our individual capacities or represent our parties,” said a leader who has received an invitation.

With talk of regional front gaining ground, the Congress has also convened a meeting of its general secretaries and State in-charges on June 24 to discuss the current political situation and the party's strategy to respond to them.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 7:24:01 AM |

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