New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Congress president Sonia Gandhi met top leaders of the opposition -- including Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin -- on Friday to chalk out a common plan against Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

According to a report by news agency PTI, Mamata, Pawar and Stalin had accepted Sonia's invitation for the meet that was held virtually. Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who was once considered to be a close ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also attended the meeting.

Since the BJP got a drubbing at the hands of TMC in West Bengal assembly elections 2021, the opposition parties are looking to form an 'unlikely alliance' against a "common enemy". The opposition, led by the Congress, had also united against the Centre during the just-concluded Monsoon session of Parliament and attacked it over Pegasus snooping row, farm laws and other issues.

The opposition MPs held banners and placards demanding the withdrawal of farm laws and protesting against the "murder of democracy". Leading the protest, Rahul Gandhi alleged, "we have to come out here to speak to the press as we in Opposition are not allowed to speak in the Parliament. This is a murder of democracy".

Meanwhile, Sonia's opposition meet comes days after senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, one of the party's major dissenting voice, had also hosted a dinner in which 45 leaders of the 15 parties, including the Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), National Conference and the Akali Dal, participated.

Following Sibal's meet, the oppsition leaders said that they didn't discuss politics. However, sources, quoted by news agency ANI, said that uniting the opposition to stop PM Modi-led NDA in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections was the main agenda of the meet. They further said that the opposition leaders also discussed the assembly elections of five states next year and ways to stop the BJP from coming to power, especially in Uttar Pradesh.

"While Omar Abdullah questioned what steps were being taken to strengthen the Congress and stated that whenever the Congress is strong, the opposition becomes stronger, Sharad Pawar extended support to the G-23 leaders and said that we are with you in terms of whatever you are doing inside and outside your party," ANI quoted sources as saying.

The sources further informed that a section of leaders from Opposition parties also raised the issue of "no leadership in the Congress party" if they are willing to extend their support at the national front.

"TMC leader Derek O' Brien said that on one hand, Congress fights against TMC in West Bengal, on the other hand, the party wants TMC to be on board with them in Centre. A BJP leader also raised the issue of unclear leadership in the party and said, "there are issues in which we feel that we can align with Congress but whom should we talk to?" sources said.

"YSR representative also said they are ready to forget the things in the past for the betterment of the country. Even Shiromani Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral said his party can be united on the farmer's issue," they added.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma