Non-Cong opposition wants AAP in their camp

Opposition parties will now push for the entry of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in their unity club even as it missed the first first bus due to an unenthusiastic Congress.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led party was not invited to May 26 lunch hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the first such meeting of the opposition parties that are trying to form a united front.

Non-Congress sources said ignoring AAP does not make any sense and hoped that the party would soon find a place among themselves. Sources said they would take initiative to bring in AAP though Congress feels that the party is slowly disintegrating.

“The Congress seems allergic to the AAP. They have a score to settle. But the scenario has changed. You need to have all like-minded parties under one umbrella. Congress feels AAP does not have the sting it used to have once. That may be partially true but it is not going to disintegrate as they like to believe,” a senior Opposition leader said.

Congress had put the onus on other parties to invite AAP for the meeting but the leaders had wondered why should they call somebody for a lunch hosted by Gandhi. Sources said some Opposition leaders had sought to impress upon Gandhi to ask her leaders to get in touch with Kejriwal.

Though several want AAP to strengthen the Opposition ranks, many are not enthused with Kejriwal’s one-man shows earlier. It will also be difficult for Kejriwal as he had made his political career out of targeting UPA leaders, including NCP’s Sharad Yadav and RJD’s Lalu Prasad.

Kejriwal is in good terms with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar. He also has supporters in CPI(M).

The AAP chief had in April expressed willingness to join opposition in the fight against BJP after a breakfast meeting with Kerala Chief Minister and senior CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan here where he called for an alliance of “all good people”.

Besides AAP, Naveen Patnaik-led BJD also was not invited to the lunch. Sources said more than Congress’, it was Patnaik’s dilemma over possible nomination of Jharkhand Draupadi Murmu, who hails from Odisha, by the BJP as its presidential candidate.

Sources said Patnaik was initially enthusiastic with the Opposition plans to field Gopalkrishna Gandhi but suggestions that BJP may field Murmu, who also served in his Ministry when BJD and BJP were in alliance, made him drag his feet.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jun 3, 2017)

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