Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had a “long meeting” with Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday after which he said an opposition front without Congress doesn’t seem possible. He also said that the face of such an opposition front is a matter of discussion.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Rahul, he said said, “An opposition front is not possible without Congress. The face of the opposition front may be a matter of discussion. Rahul Gandhi will soon visit Mumbai. There should be only one opposition front.”
Asked if the Shiv Sena will join the Congress-led UPA, Raut said, “I will first meet Uddhav Thackery and then we will talk about it.”
Raut’s remarks come days after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ‘no UPA anymore’ taunt after her meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
Raut also said he has asked Rahul Gandhi to take the lead in getting all the opposition parties together to discuss a strategy to take on the BJP-led NDA in the 2024 elections. Asked if the Shiv Sena is trying to settle differences between the Congress and Mamata Banerjee, Raut said, “Sharad Pawar Saab hai (we have NCP leader Sharad Pawar for that).”
The meeting between Raut and Rahul comes amid the party’s emphasis on the importance of the Congress in any opposition front against the BJP even as gaps between Mamata Banerjee’s TMC and the grand old party continue to widen.
Mamata Banerjee had met Raut, Sena leader and state minister Aaditya Thackeray, and Pawar in Mumbai last week. Banerjee said after meeting with Pawar that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) no longer exists. The Sena, on the other hand, has stated that forming a parallel front to the UPA is equivalent to strengthening the BJP.
Raut, whose party shares power with the NCP and Congress in Maharashtra, had on Sunday claimed “it looks like Banerjee is contemplating something new excluding the Congress”. In a rebuttal to Mamata’s recent remarks, Sena had written in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana that while it was true that Mamata Banerjee finished the Congress, Left and BJP in West Bengal, but keeping Congress out of national politics would amount to strengthening the current forces.
With inputs from News18