Sharad Pawar led NCP skips meeting called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi

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Opposition unity took yet another hit on Friday with Sharad Pawar-led NCP deciding to skip a meeting called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to chalk out a strategy for the coming months.

The Nitish Kumar-led JD(U), which defied the Opposition’s decision and went with the NDA in the presidential election, also did not attend the meeting. A party MP who took part in the deliberations, against the party’s decision, was penalised. CPI(M) 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.

The 16 parties, which attended the meeting, decided to form a sub-group to prepare a common agenda ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament.

Sources said five major issues were identified for attacking the NDA government. These include demonetisation, the hasty implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), farmers’ plight, rising unemployment and the political witch hunt of Opposition leaders.

The NCP claimed that it had skipped the meeting in protest against Congress’ allegation that its two MLAs did not vote for Congress leader Ahmed Patel in Gujarat Rajya Sabha poll.

NCP leader Praful Patel said even when his party had issued a three-line whip to its MLAs to vote for the Congress, leaders of that party were accusing it of not supporting Ahmed Patel.

“After we issued a whip to our MLAs, they voted for the Congress. Why should we be accused of not supporting it? That is why we decided to boycott this meeting,” Praful Patel said.

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