Congress President Sonia Gandhi has called a meeting of 18 opposition parties on Friday, the last day of Parliament's monsoon session, to discuss the future course of action of the joint opposition and chalk out a strategy against the Modi government.
After the repeated defeats at the hands of the BJP in a series of elections and the party's aggressive push to establish footprints in non-BJP ruled states through other means, the Opposition leaders are working around the "unite or perish" principle. But NCP's uncertain relations with Congress and friction caused by only one of its two Gujarat MLAs voting for Patel seemed to have cast a shadow over the opposition talks.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury "deliberately" left after 40 minutes into the meeting, claiming that his party had problems over an electoral alliance with the Congress, sources said. There are fears in Congress that NCP chief Sharad Pawar may be drifting towards BJP too. "And what we get in return is accusations", Patel said. On his part, Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad said NCP chief Pawar was unwell and he had spoken to him ahead of the meeting.
NCP has been urging the Congress to form an alliance for the year-end Gujarat assembly elections, a proposal that was given a cold shoulder by the latter.
A Congress leader said that invitations were being sent to opposition leaders for the mega protest in Gujarat and the party expected a good show at the satyagraha protest. Parties that have a strong organisational strength in each of these states could take the lead in organising the programmes and other parties will join them, to make their presence felt on the ground.
"This year this was the fourth meeting of like minded opposition parties".