NCP skips opposition meet chaired by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi

Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s dramatic victory in the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat has galvanised the party to organise a conclave of Opposition leaders in New Delhi to work out a plan for the 2019 general elections

The joint Opposition meet was called to discuss unity and chalk out a strategy against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central Government. But I would like to inform the opposition that; other than BJP no other party is capable of ruling the government or Centre. But NCP's uncertain relations with Congress and friction caused by only one of its two Gujarat MLAs voting for Patel seemed to have cast a shadow over the opposition talks.

The opposition leaders of 16 parties authorised Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to form a small group to coordinate with the "like-minded parties" on programmes to be organised during the three months till the winter session of Parliament.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury "deliberately" left after 40 minutes into the meeting, claiming that his party had problems over an electoral alliance with the Congress, sources said.

When asked about the absence of NCP at the meeting, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters he had personally spoken to Pawar, who in turn informed him that he was unwell and was therefore skipping the meeting. However, NCP's decision to stay away from the gathering came as a jolt to the opposition which has just lost JD (U) after Bihar CM Nitish Kumar returned to the NDA-fold.

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According to news agency ANI, senior NCP leader Praful Patel confirmed that the party had boycotted the opposition meeting called by Congress. The parties chose to take up the issues of farmers, Dalits, minorities and other marginalised groups during the period.

The NCP decision to stay away from the meeting of opposition leaders, attended by Mamata Banerjee (Trinamool), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Omar Abdullah (NC), Naresh Agarwal (SP), S C Mishra (BSP) among others, was Pawar's way of telling the Congress that smaller allies can not be taken for granted.

"This year this was the fourth meeting of like minded opposition parties".

To bolster its joint parliamentary strategy, the opposition has made a decision to come up with a small group which will coordinate with all the opposition leaders, discuss issues and come up with a plan of what should be raised in the upcoming winter session of Parliament.

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