New Delhi: Leaders of several opposition parties including TMC, SP, AAP, RLD and the Left assembled at NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s residence here Tuesday. They discussed various issues facing India, amid intense speculation about the possibility of a third front against the ruling BJP. However, leaders who took part in the discussions asserted that it was a ‘non-political’ meeting of like-minded individuals. They said the meeting was conducted by Rashtriya Manch which was floated by former finance minister and TMC vice-president Yashwant Sinha.
NCP leader Majid Menon said it was not a meeting for forming an anti-BJP front or a non-Congress front.
The meeting lasted more than two hours and was attended by Omar Abdullah from National Conference (NC), Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Ghanshyam Tiwari, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) president Jayant Chaudhary, Sushil Gupta from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Binoy Viswam from the Communist Party of India (CPI), Nilotpal Basu from CPI(M) and Sinha among others. Former Congress leader Sanjay Jha and former Janata Dal (United) leader Pavan Verma also participated.
Besides politicians, several eminent personalities such as Javed Akhtar, Ambassador KC Singh, Justice (retd) AP Shah were also present at the meeting.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, Menon, who is one of the founders of the Manch, said it was a non-political meeting and was not called by Sharad Pawar.
“It was not an anti-BJP political front meeting called by Sharad Pawar. It was a meeting of Rashtriya Manch held at his residence. Like-minded individuals or people with the same ideology attended the meeting. There were several apolitical personalities present in the meeting,” Menon said. He also dismissed reports stating that an attempt is being made to form a non-Congress front.
There is no such attempt, Menon informed. He added five Congress MPs including Kapil Sibal, Vivek Tankha, Manish Tewari and Abhishek Manu Singhvi were invited for the meeting. However, due to some pressing issues, they could not attend.
Similar sentiments were expressed by CPI(M) leader Basu after the meeting. He said that it was an interaction among like-minded people and should not be seen as a political meeting. He said several issues such as ‘Covid’ management, ‘attack’ on institutions and unemployment, and rising inflation among others were discussed.
Earlier in the day, a senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, on the condition of anonymity, said though Pawar is hosting the meeting, it has been organised by former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha who is the convenor of the Rashtra Manch.