Just the beginning: Sharad Pawar on Opposition unity

NCP chief meets Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi. Pawar calls for holding meeting with Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal, two leaders who prefer Opposition sans Congress

NEW DELHI | Updated: 14 April, 2023 7:17 am IST
NCP boss Sharad Pawar, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge and former party president Rahul Gandhi

With an eye on cobbling up a united Opposition ahead of the 2024 general election, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge met with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar on Thursday.

The meeting came a day after Kharge and former party president Rahul Gandhi met with Bihar Chief minister and Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar and his deputy and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav in New Delhi.

“Talks will be held with other important opposition parties as well to bring them together,” Pawar said after the meeting. “A process needs to be started. This is just the beginning,” the former Union minister said.

While Opposition unity to stop the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) juggernaut has been on the table for a long time now, however, it seems to be a far-fetched dream as different parties have failed to overcome their own ambitions.

Pawar, one of the key Opposition figures who is calling for Opposition unity, hinted that Congress should be talking to leaders like the Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal and the Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee.

Interestingly, both Banerjee and Kejriwal hold prime ministerial ambitions, while they are keen to have a unified Opposition sans The Grand Old Party.

“I want that there should be talks with leaders of all opposition parties. Mamata Banerjee, (Arvind) Kejriwal… We should go and talk to them. We will move forward, taking everyone along, to unite the opposition,” Pawar said.

Meanwhile, Kharge, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, said, “I am glad Sharad Pawar came to visit us from Mumbai and guide us. Yesterday, I and Rahul Gandhi had a conversation with Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav that we will keep the opposition united in the country.”

Echoing the sentiments, Rahul Gandhi said, “What Khargeji and Pawar ji said is that a process to bring the opposition together has started. This is the beginning and we, all the opposition parties, are committed to it.”

Efforts to bring the opposition parties together have gathered pace this week, with Nitish Kumar also meeting CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury and CPI leader D Raja on Thursday.

Nitish Kumar, who is on a three-day visit to Delhi, earlier met RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav after his arrival in Delhi on Tuesday evening and inquired about his health.

The Chief Minister had also met his Delhi counterpart and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal at his residence on Wednesday evening, along with his deputy Tejashwi Yadav.

The leaders are likely to take forward unity talks as more deliberations are expected in the coming days, opposition leaders have said.

The Congress plans to convene a meeting of top opposition leaders very soon.

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