Sonia calls opposition meeting on Friday, Sharad invited

Paswan says Gorakhpur children deaths are heart-wrenching

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.

However, the NCP stayed away from the meeting at the insistence of senior leader Praful Patel who was upset at the constant criticism of the Pawar-led outfit by Congress leaders who claimed that his two MLAs did not vote in favour of Ahmed Patel in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections.

The 18 Opposition parties had earlier chose to meet once a month to discuss various crucial issues.

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Congress high command Sonia Gandhi had invited nearly all the opposition parties to unite as one entity against the BJP-led government on Friday, ahead of the last day of the monsoon session.

At the meeting, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee proposed a few joint programmes during the three months before the winter session of Parliament begins in November.

CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said his party is of the view that the Narendra Modi regime can be opposed by creating an alternative narrative through the struggles of people. "And what we get in return is accusations", Patel said. He called it a Congress propaganda to project NCP as "BJP's B-team" to damage its credentials ahead of assembly elections in Gujarat.

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When asked about the absence of NCP at the meeting, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters he had personally spoken to Pawar, who in turn informed him that he was unwell and was therefore skipping the meeting.

He is also organising a conclave in New Delhi on August 17, which will be attended by opposition leaders.

The 18 Opposition parties had earlier chose to meet once a month to discuss various crucial issues and maintain better coordination among themselves to "unitedly" take on the government.

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"This year this was the fourth meeting of like minded opposition parties".

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