Mumbai, Feb 16 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray invited his Telangana counterpart K. Chandrashekar Rao for lunch on Sunday with a power menu comprising national affairs and opposition unity, officials said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Thackeray called up KCR, as Rao is popularly known, and lauded his efforts to rally the country’s regional and Opposition parties and forge a united challenge to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre.
Thackeray is understood to have conveyed to KCR the need to “save the country” from BJP’s divisive political agenda for which the Shiv Sena would extend full support.
KCR is expected to fly down from Hyderabad on Sunday morning and drop in at the CM’s official residence ‘Varsha’ at Malabar Hill for the ‘lunch pe charcha’, an official indicated.
However, ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi’s (MVA) other constituents – the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress – told IANS that “as of now, no meetings are scheduled between their leaders and KCR”.
Key states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu or even Delhi – where the BJP has lost elections since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls – are considered critical in its ambitions to ensure maximum leverage for the 2024 Lok Sabha or even the future Rajya Sabha polls.
Since the past few weeks, the Telangana CM has been zipping around the country, meeting top leaders of various national and regional Opposition parties to rally them for a united front against the BJP before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Among the leaders he has already met are Tejaswi Yadav, his Tamil Nadu counterpart M.K. Stalin, and is likely to meet Thackeray and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee – who incidentally had come to meet Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar in December.
Former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda has also expressed support to KCR on his anti-communal agenda and the duo are slated to have a meeting shortly.
Most states ruled by Opposition or regional parties have been strongly protesting at the BJP’s continuing “destabilising” efforts or “toppling attempts”.
They have also been accusing the BJP of misusing power and government machinery by letting loose various Central investigating agencies against their top leaders and even family members to make them “bend” or “break”.
Among the parties that are considered the prime targets include Shiv Sena, the NCP, the Trinamool Congress, and certain other parties, too.
A MVA leader said that similar issues had come up during Banerjee’s confabulations with Thackeray and Sharad Pawar last December, and the upcoming discussions with KCR are likely to move these even further.
On Tuesday, Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut launched a scathing attack on the state BJP functionaries, Enforcement Directorate and other central agencies, on how they have been harassing people on flimsy reasons to target the top leaders.
He also charged the Central agencies of going all out against the Opposition leaders, but not displaying the same vigour when BJP leaders are accused of graft charges despite providing evidence repeatedly.
A senior state Congress leader said while the Opposition unity plans are necessary to dare the BJP’s communal and disruptive politics, “no such exercise can be complete or practical without Congress” – a sentiment voiced even by Pawar several times in the past.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)