Without ruffling feathers within, Oppn to take on Modi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi along with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. PTI file photo

The Opposition is planning a three-pronged attack on Narendra Modi government but the movers behind the plan are treading a cautious path to ensure that nothing happens that could ruffle the egos of regional satraps.

Revival of 'Sanjha Virasat', which is spearheaded by veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav, organising a joint attack on Rafale and a Chief Ministers' conclave on centre-state relations are on the anvil in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

Efforts are being taken to ensure that the regional parties do not feel that the efforts are Congress-centric while taking care that parties at loggerheads in states are able to share the stage at the national level and do not sabotage the game-plan.

The renewed vigour in the Opposition camp came as a section of top Opposition leaders swung into action to clear the mess following the momentum given by the latest visit by TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu who met Congress president Rahul Gandhi, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar among others.

The test dose of this arrangement will be the Chief Ministers' conclave being planned by the joint Opposition. The conclave, which was planned to be held in the last week of October, could not be held following some parties showing a cold shoulder.

The latest round of conclave had its initiation in September and AAP's Delhi Finance Minister Manish Sisodia and his CPI(M) counterpart in Kerala Thomas Isaac did some ground work. The idea has been revived, sources said.

The conclave is not planned as one initiated by the Congress so as to ensure that regional parties do not have a problem. Sources said Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy will be tasked to initiate the process for the conclave and Delhi could host it.

With Kumaraswamy being the initiator and Kejriwal a possible host, sources said this arrangement would help the Opposition cause. Banerjee could have found a reason if CPI(M) was in the leadership role and same would be the case for BSP, if it was a Congress driven exercise, they said.

Another advice to leaders taking the initiative is to avoid pitching the unity efforts as an electoral alliance. Sources said they are pre-empting BJP efforts to wean away one or two smaller parties and then declare opposition unity as a “non-starter”.

The Opposition parties are also pitching for a joint action on Rafale, saying continuous raking up of the issue by Gandhi has attracted some resonance. Sources said the effort is to bring about a campaign that can “create an atmosphere” like the Bofors controversy in 1989 and put the Modi government under pressure.

The bypoll results in Karnataka have also enthused the Opposition ranks. They believe it cements the Congress-JD(S) alliance ahead of Lok Sabha polls and blunt BJP campaign that Opposition allies are not in a position to transfer votes.

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Without ruffling feathers within, Oppn to take on Modi

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