New Delhi: Hours after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost two key seats in Uttar Pradesh, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s Gorakhpur, to the combined force of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Congress President Rahul Gandhi met Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar on Wednesday night.
According to reports, the meeting marks Rahul’s attempts to reach out to leaders of like-minded parties with an aim to build an anti-BJP force ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The meet also explore an alliance to challenge the BJP and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.
Rahul is also expected to meet Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee when she visits Delhi on March 28 to underscore the need for a strong alliance to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 polls.
Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule was also present during the meeting, which took place at her home.
The leaders took up from where they had left off at the dinner hosted on Tuesday by Sonia Gandhi, the chairperson of the UPA. Twenty parties attended the dinner, which was seen as a show of opposition unity.
The dinner took place against the backdrop of a logjam in Parliament, which has witnessed continuous disruptions since the start of the second part of the Budget Session on March 5.
The BJP is having a tough time in Maharashtra, a state that it rules with the Shiv Sena. The Sena has declared that it will contest Lok Sabha elections alone and has escalated its almost daily attacks on its long-time ally.
Rahul Gandhi's initiative to reach out to leaders of like-minded parties comes at a time when Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao has proposed an "anti-Congress, anti-BJP alliance" for the national election, a call that has been supported by Mamata Banerjee.
The BJP was defeated on the Gorakhpur, and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh by Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine while the Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) defeated the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) - an NDA ally - on Araria Lok Sabha seat in Bihar.
(With inputs from agencies)...