A meeting at veteran politician Sharad Pawar’s house today, which drew outsized attention over reports of a Third Front effort, featured eight political parties including Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, the Left and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha, whose outfit Rashtra Manch organised the meeting, was among the first to arrive. He had asked Sharad Pawar to host the meeting, described as a gathering to “debate current events”.
Eight political parties were present at the meeting. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, Majid Memon and Vandana Chauhan from Mr Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, RLD’s Jayant Choudhary, Samawadi Party’s Ghanshyam Tiwari and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s Sushil Gupta were among those who attended.
Others at the gathering were retired Justice AP Shah, senior lawyer KTS Tulsi, former chief election commissioner SY Qureshi, former ambassador KC Singh, lyricist Javed Akhtar and senior lawyer Colin Gonsalves.
With Mr Pawar , one of India’s most experienced politicians and a sharp negotiator, playing host, the meeting was projected by many as the first steps towards forming an opposition front to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP in the 2024 national election.
However, those associated with the event clarified that the gathering had nothing to do with putting together a Third Front.
“Yashwant Sinha heads the Rashtra Manch. He asked to meet with Mr Pawar. So the meeting is an initiative of the Rashtra Manch,” said NCP leader Praful Patel.
Sources close to Sharad Pawar said neither he nor his party had put out any invitations. “This is a highly overrated and speculative meeting,” they said.