Anticipating a hung verdict in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has decided to take the lead in consolidating the opposition and has called leaders of their parties for a meeting on May 23, the day the results of the national election will be declared, to work out a plan of action.
Sonia Gandhi has written to several opposition leaders, including DMK chief MK Stalin, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), Sharad Pawar’sNationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Uttar Pradesh opposition alliance partners, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, media reports said.
Sonia Gandhi has reportedly entrusted Kamal Nath and a couple of senior party leaders to reach out to BJD chief Naveen Patnaik, YS Congress’s Jagan Mohan Reddy and TRS’s K Chandrashekar Rao. Informal talks are said to have begun with all of these leaders, reported The Indian Express (IE).
UPA ally DMK on Thursday confirmed the meeting, saying that party chief MK Stalin has received an invite from Gandhi.
The UPA chairperson, who has not been seen on the campaign trail this election season, has reportedly been silently reaching out to leaders from non-NDA parties.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath is learnt to have personally spoken to his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, requesting him to attend the May 23 meeting. Both the leaders have known each other personally since their earlier days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent meeting with Patnaik after both of them conducted the aerial survey of the cyclone-affected regions of Odisha, had given a lot of grist to speculations regarding the BJP sending signals to the BJD in case there is a case of an alliance after the results.
Working out an arrangement with diverse parties will need thrashing out several differences – as Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party managed to do in Uttar Pradesh. For instance, Congress is willing to work with YS Jagan, who walked out of the party after the death of his father and former chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, YS Rajashekar Reddy.
A deal with the YSR Congress is also likely to upset Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu, who is locked in a direct fight with Jagan in the state assembly elections.
Also, the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Left parties are locked in a fight in West Bengal.
As one step towards accommodating other parties, the Congress has indicated it would not stake claim for the prime minister’s post for itself.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday, May 15, said that his party does not have any problem if it did not get the Prime Minister’s post, adding that its sole objective has always been to stop the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from forming the government at the Centre.
“We have already made our stand clear. If a consensus is made in the favour of Congress, then the party will take the leadership but our aim has always been that NDA government should not come. We will go with the unanimous decision,” Azad told reporters in Patna.
“We are not going to make an issue that we (Congress) will not let anyone else become the Prime Minister if it is not offered to us (Congress),” he said.