There will be 28 parties in attendance in Mumbai, which is two more than the number in Bengaluru which hosted the second meeting of the new opposition alliance.
The first and the foremost challenge of the new opposition alliance would be to select a national convenor. This could be a tricky move as several leaders have played a key role in bringing the opposition parties on one platform.The meeting is also likely to discuss the seat-sharing formula as many allies at the national level are political adversaries in the states. Acknowledging the inherent contradictions in the alliance, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeay said “our ideologies are different, but we have a common aim – to protect the country.”
However, the biggest issue that the opposition bloc faces is – who will be the prime ministerial candidate of the alliance? When asked about it at a press conference on the eve of the third meeting, the INDIA leaders tried to make light of this difficult question by saying “they had several choices for PM face as against the BJP which only had one.”
The issue triggered a minor controversy on the eve of the Mumbai meeting with Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson pitching for Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal as the PM face for the opposition alliance. However, the party was quick to distance itself from the remark and clarified that Kejriwal was not in the race to become the prime minister.
Spokespersons of two other regional parties – the Shiv Sena (UBT) and the Samjawadi Party – said there was nothing wrong in what the AAP spokesperson had said. “If we are asked for an opinion on who should be the PM face, we will also pitch for our respective leaders,” they said.
All preparations are done: Sanjay Raut ahead of 3rd INDIA alliance meet in Mumbai
The Congress, which hosted the Bengaluru meeting and is also one of the hosts in Mumbai, added to the controversy by issuing a poster which showed Rahul Gandhi ahead of all the other opposition leaders. What’s more, there was no Arvind Kejriwal in the Congress poster.
Clearly, the alliance will have to survive many such provocations – some intentional, some others unintentional as it moves ahead.
Former Union minister Sharad Pawar, who had played a key role in forming Maha Vikas Aghadi – the opposition alliance in Maharashtra, expressed confidence that INDIA parties will provide a formidable alternative to bring about political change at the national level.
The veteran Maharashtra politician also took a swipe at Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati. Asked about BSP chief’s statement on being neutral, Pawar said, “There is no clarity on which side Mayawati is. She has had a dialogue with BJP in the past. I am not saying she would do that now also. But unless there is clarity on this, no decision can be taken.”
Earlier in the day, Mayawati said all parties are eager for an alliance with the BSP but there is “no question” of her party joining hands with either the BJP-led NDA or the opposition’s INDIA alliance.
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