Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar.(HT File Photo)
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar.(HT File Photo)

Pawar to host meeting of civil society, Opposition leaders today

The announcement of the meeting -- under the banner of Rashtra Manch, an anti-BJP platform set up in 2018 -- came hours after Pawar met political strategist Prashant Kishor in Delhi over tea, the second meeting of the two in 10 days
By Sunetra Choudhury, Faisal Malik, Hindustan Times, New Delhi/mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 22, 2021 07:14 AM IST

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar will host a meeting of Opposition leaders and civil society members at his house in Delhi on Tuesday to initiate discussions about bringing together outfits against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), his party said.

The announcement of the meeting -- under the banner of Rashtra Manch, an anti-BJP platform set up in 2018 -- came hours after Pawar met political strategist Prashant Kishor in Delhi over tea, the second meeting of the two in 10 days.

NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said that Tuesday’s meeting was called to hold a primary discussion on uniting opposition parties.

“A discussion on the current political situation and primary discussion on how to bring all the opposition parties together is likely to be discussed in the meeting to be held on Tuesday. The exercise is the first step towards the announcement made by the NCP chief that he will be working to unite the opposition parties in the country,” Malik said.

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Kishor sought to play down the meeting and said he won’t be attending the 4pm discussion, where no senior leader of the Congress was called.

”I don’t believe that any third or fourth front can defeat Narendra Modi so why would I be part of any such coalition. Just because 15 persons are meeting, you cannot call it a fifteen-party meeting,’’ said Kishor.

He also rejected speculation that he was taking on the NCP as a client. “There is no question of Pawar Sahab becoming my client because I have left this space [election strategy]as I announced on May 2,’’ said Kishor. “I had lunch with him when I was in Mumbai recently and so today, he called me and asked me to come over for tea. It was just chit-chat and a routine meeting.’’

Malik said those invited for Tuesday’s meeting included Yashwant Sinha, Pavan Verma, Sanjay Singh, D Raja, Farooq Abdullah, KTS Tulsi, Majeed Memon , Vandana Chavan , Ghanshyam Tiwari , Karan Thapar, Javed Akhtar , Ashutosh, SY Qureshi, Arun Kumar, KC Singh, Sanjay Jha, Sudheendra Kulkarni, Colin Gonsalves and Pritish Nandy.

The meeting comes amid a growing rift between the Congress and its alliance partner Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra. The parties have differed over whether to fight upcoming polls in alliance or separately.

Sinha, a member of Trinamool Congress, later tweeted that Pawar was hosting a meeting of the Rashtra Manch, a political action group floated by Sinha in 2018. “We shall have a meeting of the Rashtra Manch tomorrow at 4pm. Sri Sharad Pawar has kindly agreed to host the meeting at his place,” he said.

“We haven’t met for 15 months,’’ said Sinha, ”So when our member told Pawar Saheb, he kindly invited us to have the meeting at his house. That’s all there is to it,” he added

On Pawar’s meeting with Kishor, Malik said, “Being a strategist he (Kishor) knows the current political situation and what may happen in the coming days, which he is believed to have shared with the NCP chief. At present, Pawar saheb has only one agenda of making an alliance of opposition parties against BJP before him.”

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