Six key Opposition parties skip Sonia Gandhi's meeting

Six key Opposition parties skip Sonia Gandhi's meeting

Putting up a brave face, Congress claimed that leaders of 20 opposition parties had attended the meeting called by Gandhi. (PTI photo)

The much-talked about opposition unity appeared to unravel on Monday as key allies DMK and Samajwadi Party skipped the meeting convened by Congress President Sonia Gandhi to plan a joint strategy to take on the Modi government on issues such as Citizenship Amendment Act and the student protests in parts of the country.

Besides DMK and SP, key opposition players Trinamool Congress, Mayawati's BSP and the latest entrant to the opposition block Shiv Sena also did not send their representatives to the meeting. With Delhi elections next month, Congress had not even bothered to call the AAP, which otherwise sticks with the opposition block in Parliament.

Putting up a brave face, Congress claimed that leaders of 20 opposition parties had attended the meeting called by Gandhi.

“We are all together on these issues,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters here to questions on key absentees at the meeting.

Raju Shetti of Swabhiman Paksha, a Congress ally, also skipped the meeting. Shetti is upset with the raw deal his party received in the power sharing arrangement in Maharashtra. "Congress remembers us only when it has to attack the BJP. I deliberately skipped the meeting," he said.

A senior Congress leader said its all-weather ally DMK was upset at certain remarks made by the Tamil Nadu Congress President K S Alagiri on the local body elections in the state. Congress tried to placate the DMK by asking Alagiri to issue a clarification, but that failed to mollify the coalition partner.

SP is reportedly in talks with the AAP for an alliance to get a foothold in Delhi which prompted it to stay away from the meeting convened by Gandhi.

A communication gap was said to be the reason for Shiv Sena staying away. However, sources said that the latest entrant to the opposition camp was not too keen and had offered to send its leader Priyanka Chaturvedi for the meeting, which was declined. Chaturvedi, a frontline Congress spokesperson, had quit the party to join the Shiv Sena ahead of the Lok Sabha elections last year.

Mayawati is upset at the Congress for poaching its MLAs in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and had made it clear that she would not attend the meeting convened by Gandhi.

Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee also distanced herself from the meeting accusing the Congress and the CPI(M) of indulging in “dirty politics” after the violence in the Bharat Bandh on Wednesday last.

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