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Mamata, Pawar, other bigwigs in Delhi for Oppn conclave

Mamata, Pawar, other bigwigs in Delhi for Oppn conclave
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New Delhi: TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar flew into Delhi on Sunday evening.

In a significant step towards forming an anti-BJP front, top Opposition leaders will huddle here Monday to discuss forging a grand alliance to take on the saffron party in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The meeting, significantly, comes a day before the results of the Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram Assembly polls are scheduled to be announced, and the winter session of Parliament is slated to begin.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is coordinating the meeting. He has invited the leaders of all the non-BJP parties.

"The main agenda of the meeting is to chart the future course of action for forming a non-BJP front," a source said.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi are likely to attend the meet, during which the Opposition is also expected to chalk out a joint strategy for the winter session of Parliament.

During the meeting at the Parliament House Annexe, the opposition parties were expected to discuss their responses to government bills and issues related to the Rafale deal and farmers, sources said.

Not only the heads of non-BJP parties, but also the chief ministers of opposition parties from Kerala, Punjab and Puducherry are invited to the meeting, they added.

Other than the TMC and NCP chiefs, National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy are expected to attend the meeting.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M K Stalin, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav and Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) leader Sharad Yadav are also among those likely to attend the meeting.

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is unlikely to be part of the meeting, the sources said, adding that he might join the anti-BJP alliance post the general election.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati is also unlikely to take part in the meeting, but her close aide Satish Chandra Mishra might attend it, a source said.

Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav is likely to attend the Opposition meet, but in case he is unable to come, then senior party leader Ram Gopal Yadav would be present, a party source said. Naidu had last month met the heads of several opposition parties, including Rahul Gandhi, and termed the TDP's alliance with the Congress a "democratic compulsion" to protect the country.

The TDP chief also met Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, where the two leaders agreed to take on the BJP together.

Sources said there could be pre-poll as well as post-poll alliances, taking into account the interest of each state.

"Price rise, the ill-effects of demonetisation and the GST, unemployment and threats to the Constitution will also be on the agenda of the meeting," NCP leader D P Tripathi said.

Earlier, the meeting was planned for November 22 but had to be deferred because of the Assembly polls in five states.

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