Amid speculation over the likely formation of a third front, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut today said bringing all the opposition parties together and forming a consensus on a face to take on the BJP in the 2024 general elections is a huge task given that every regional party considers itself a king and tries to "dictate terms".
Asked if that probable face would be Sharad Pawar, Mr Raut said the NCP chief is a senior national leader but at the same time, some people are thinking about West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
"It is a huge task to bring all the Opposition parties together and form a consensus on a face to take on the BJP in the 2024 general elections. Every opposition party equates itself with a king and tries to dictate terms," he told a regional news channel in Delhi.
"We need a face to counter the Union government like Jayaprakash Narayan against then PM Indira Gandhi in post-emergency polls, V P Singh against Rajiv Gandhi. Later, (then prime minister) Manmohan Singh and (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi duo were challenged by Narendra Modi in the 2014 general elections," Raut said.
When asked who could emerge as a probable face to take on the BJP, Raut said, "Sharad Pawar has been a national leader for a long time. Some people think of Mamata Bannerjee after her spectacular performance in recent West Bengal polls. In such scenario, if (poll strategist) Prashant Kishor can do some magic, I will be happy".
Mr Kishor has separately met Ms Banerjee and Mr Pawar in the recent past. He called on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at the latter's residence in Delhi on Tuesday.
Mr Raut said he shared good relations with Mr Kishor and his meeting with Congress leadership is entirely his own business. Reacting to Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole's comments on expanding the party's base in the state, he said, "There is nothing to talk about it anymore. Every party leader speaks about his party's expansion in party-level gatherings and rallies. The actual decision-makers are Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar and (Shiv Sena president and Maharashtra CM) Uddhav Thackeray."