Mayawati's outburst against Congress earlier in the week may have created a huge dent in the dream of a united opposition to resist BJP ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2019. While Rahul Gandhi's party has been relentlessly trying to stitch together a united opposition, frictions and factions appear galore - highlighted amply by Bahujan Samaj Party's decision to fight upcoming state elections on its own. Other regional parties too appear on shaky grounds in cementing a political alliance.
In the rather murky political cauldron, it is Mamata Banerjee who is now attempting to unify forces. Her biggest weapon yet could be a rally she has called in Kolkata on January 19th - a possible photo op for opposition leaders. And a statement of intent. "We have invited all non-BJP parties. We have also managed to secure permission for the Brigade Parade grounds. Some of the leaders have confirmed their participation too," the Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister said recently, adding that she has also invited CPM and CPI to participate.
Some key political figures who have been invited or can expect an invite include Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mewani, Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah - apart from Rahul and Sonia Gandhi. Mamata said that Omar, Chandrababu Naidu and Arvind Kejriwal have already confirmed their attendance.
Interestingly, Mamata will also invite Mayawati. "I can't comment on the stand taken by Mayawati about Congress but I'll invite both Congress and Mayawati for the rally. I appeal to all opposition parties to come together," she said.
The BJP, on its part, maintains that the opposition only has a 'remove Narendra Modi' agenda and cares little to not for the common people and the development of the country.
(Reporting from Kolkata by Pooja Mehta)