No opposition front without Congress: Shiv Sena's Raut

No chance of an opposition front without Congress, says Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut

He said that the NCP could play a major role in bringing together the warring Congress and Trinamool Congress

Sanjay Raut. Credit: PTI Photo

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, after a meeting with Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, said that there can be no opposition front without the Congress, in the wake of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's statement questioning the existence of the UPA.

“There was a discussion about the UPA. It is not right to comment on it. I will talk to Uddhavji (Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray) and then speak to you (the media),” Raut told reporters after meeting Gandhi in New Delhi.

The Shiv Sena, a former BJP ally, is not part of the alliance that was in power at the Centre between 2004 and 2014. Raut declined to share details of the meeting.

When asked how the opposition parties are coming together to take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Raut said efforts for this are on. “I have told Rahulji to take a lead in this and work towards it. There can be no (opposition) front without the Congress. What will two-three fronts of opposition do?” the Rajya Sabha MP said.

“I have not talked about any leader leading the front. I am only saying there should be only one front. If there are two-three fronts, then it cannot be an alternative. Only then can we present an alternative (to the BJP),” he said.

His meeting with Gandhi comes days after Banerjee visited Mumbai and made comments questioning the very existence of the UPA. During the visit, she also met Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray and NCP president Sharad Pawar.

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The Congress and the NCP are constituents of the Shiv Sena-led MVA government in Maharashtra. Banerjee's meeting with opposition leaders comes amid a strain in ties between the TMC and the Congress.

Following a landslide victory in West Bengal earlier this year, the TMC has inducted several Congress leaders to its fold. In Meghalaya, 12 of 17 Congress MLAs defected to the TMC, making it the principal opposition party.

In Mumbai, Banerjee had said there was no UPA and made a pitch for unifying opposition parties to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre.

When asked how Congress and TMC can be brought together when the relations between the two are strained, Raut said Pawar will play a role in this.

In his weekly column in Sena mouthpiece Saamana on Sunday, Raut claimed that Banerjee was contemplating an alliance excluding the Congress. He added that Gandhi will be visiting Mumbai soon. Raut said he is meeting Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday and the two will discuss national politics.

Arch-rivals in the state until 2019, the Sena and the Congress came together along with the NCP to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state.

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