AAP, Trinamool’s Surprise Appearance At Congress-Led Strategy Meet

Mallikarjun Kharge had called a meeting of “like-minded opposition parties”

New Delhi:

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s meeting of opposition parties this morning at parliament featured two unexpected participants – the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Trinamool Congress.

Mr Kharge, who remains Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha weeks after he was elected Congress president, had called a meeting of “like-minded opposition parties” to discuss a joint strategy for the winter session, which started today.

That AAP and Trinamool showed up for the meeting was surprising as both parties have long been out of step with the Congress. In the monsoon session, they didn’t fall in line with a single Congress-led move in parliament.

Reports suggested recently that the Trinamool, led by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, had decided to avoid any coordination with the Congress against the government in parliament.

For the Trinamool, any collaboration with the Congress has become even more untenable with the attacks of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who leads the Congress in Lok Sabha.

In Bengal, Mr Chowdhury’s main target is Mamata Banerjee’s party. He recently accused the Chief Minister of going soft on the BJP and PM Modi out of desperation as probe agencies were hounding her party leaders.

The two parties did not attend Mr Kharge’s meeting for opposition floor leaders on November 29 to build consensus on issues to raise in the session.

The Trinamool did, however, attend an all-party meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In July, both AAP and Trinamool had skipped a similar meeting called by Mr Kharge – who was then Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha – to decide on a joint floor strategy amid a bitter standoff with the government over the suspension of opposition MPs.

The Trinamool has also usually held separate protests at parliament instead of joining any Congress-led campaign.

The winter session will end on December 29; it was delayed by a month because of the Gujarat election.

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