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In a bid to take on BJP in 2019 polls, opposition likely to meet on December 10

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, among others, are expected to attend the meeting

india Updated: Nov 28, 2018 09:40 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times
rahul gandhi,opposition leaders meet,lok sabha elections 2019
The much talked about meeting of opposition leaders that was originally expected to take place on November 22 could now happen in the second week of December and see the parties discuss ways to strategise a plan for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.(HT Photo)

The much talked about meeting of opposition leaders that was originally expected to take place on November 22 could now happen in the second week of December and see the parties discuss ways to strategise a plan for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Senior leaders from opposition parties said on Tuesday that plans are afoot for a meeting on December 10 — after the polling in the ongoing assembly elections are over. Results are due on December 11.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, among others, are expected to attend the meeting.

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“Chandrababu had called me and told me other leaders have agreed to come on December 10...,” said Yechury.

The leaders, who asked not to be identified, pointed out that they had learnt from past mistakes and do not want to impose a date on others—one of the reasons why Andhra CM Naidu’s proposed meeting on November 22 failed to take place.

“Chandrababu had consulted, primarily, leaders like Pawar, HD Kumaraswamy and MK Stalin and decided to hold a meeting this month. But when BSP chief Mayawati was approached, she refused to sit with Congress leaders amid elections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan,” a senior opposition leader said.

Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav was also not available for the meeting as his birthday fell on November 21. “...West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was preoccupied with other engagements,” added this person. This time, leaders were consulted and it was unanimously decided to hold the meeting after the assembly elections. “With the electoral bitterness and campaign against each other getting over, opposition parties can now sit together and hammer out a joint strategy for the larger goal of defeating the BJP in next year’s poll,” said a Congress leader.

As for the alliance for 2019, the leaders said, while both Yechury and Banerjee are of the firm opinion that any national alliance should be formed only after the general election is over, the December meeting will stress the need for state-specific, regional pacts to maximise opposition votes against the BJP.

“The bypolls in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have showed us the way to take on the BJP,” said a leader, pointing to the results of the Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana by-elections in UP and Ballari in Karnataka where united opposition candidates managed to defeat the BJP in the latter’s bastion.

The proposed meeting will also possibly indicate how many parties are keen to strike an understanding with the Congress.

First Published: Nov 28, 2018 09:38 IST