Congress president Sonia Gandhi has invited Mamata Banerjee, Uddhav Thackeray and other Chief Ministers and opposition leaders for a meet aimed at consolidating the unity displayed by the parties versus the government in parliament.
Besides the Chief Ministers of Bengal and Maharashtra, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren have also been invited to the virtual meeting on August 20.
The online interaction will likely set the stage for another lunch or dinner meet the Congress is planning in Delhi.
Over 15 opposition parties put up a united front in parliament in the monsoon session, which barely functioned because of disruptions and protests over issues like the Pegasus snooping scandal, the rising fuel prices and the farmers’ agitation over three central laws.
The Congress’s plan is to take this unity forward, said sources, adding that other opposition parties were also being sounded out.
Sonia Gandhi’s initiative suggests an effort to ensure the Congress’s pivotal role in opposition unity moves to take on the ruling BJP in the 2024 election.
Questions about whether the Congress is up to the task of leading the opposition have blended with doubts about the Gandhis’ leadership.
The last opposition meeting was held recently at the home of Congress leader Kapil Sibal, one of the party veterans rooting for change in the Congress leadership.
Mr Sibal had invited Sharad Pawar, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien and Omar Abdullah of the National Conference. The Akali Dal, a former BJP ally, was also invited and so was Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal.