New Delhi: The opposition unity in the country seems like a mirage for the Congress as many regional parties are flexing their muscles to lead the flock. The strongest desire is from Mamata Banerjee, who is trying to indirectly convey that she can lead the opposition in the next elections.
But the grand old party, which has been at the helm for decades, is not willing to concede and the party leaders say that without Congress there cannot be a united opposition. Sensing the overtures made by the Trinamool Congress, Sonia Gandhi called a meeting of the opposition leaders last week though it was said the meeting was called for discussing the joint strategy in Parliament, the main motive was to show that the Congress is the principal opposition party and Sonia Gandhi the leader of the UPA.
In the meeting the discussion on Mamata Banerjee was a focal point and sources say that Congress doesn’t want to upset the Trinamool leader at this juncture and wants to reach out. Sources say that NCP Chief Sharad Pawar is likely to talk to Mamata and after the Parliament session, Sonia may call another meeting in which Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and Maharashta Chief Minister Uddhav Thackarey will be invited. All three parties the DMK, JMM and Shiv Sena are in alliance with Congress.
Sonia Gandhi had met the opposition leaders of the DMK, National Conference (NC), Shiv Sena, NCP, CPI-M, and other like-minded parties soon after Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee said ‘there is no UPA’.
After the meeting, T.R. Balu said, “We discussed the suspension of the MPs in Rajya Sabha.” Farooq Abdullah of the NC said that a consensus has been built to devise a strategy to move forward.”
But, Trinamool was quick to react and its MP Dola Sen said, “It was not a opposition meet, but of some parties as the entire opposition was not present.”
Congress wants to rope in TRS Chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao in the UPA fold as he was an ally in the past. The Congress will reach out to the leaders of TRS which has been upset with the BJP increasing its footprint in the state. Though TRS had been seen as a fence sitter in Parliament which has rescued the government on multiple occasions in the Upper House, in this session it decided to boycott the remaining part of the Parliament session on the issue of paddy procurement in the state.
But the real reason for the TRS getting miffed with the BJP is former TRS leader Eatala Rajender, who was dropped from the state cabinet by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao in May. Rajender quit the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and also resigned from the state Assembly, but later won the bypolls on a BJP ticket.
The Congress is also trying to unite the opposition on the issue of suspended 12 Rajya Sabha MPs. Mallikarjun Kharge, the Leader of the opposition, has held several meetings in the House, and even Rahul Gandhi participated in the march in solidarity with the suspended MPs. The suspended 12 MPs include those from Trinamool also, but the Trinamool kept itself at a distance from the rest of the opposition and raised the issue and participated in House proceedings a number of times.