Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has told NDTV that the non-Congress, non-BJP 'G8' platform he is forming will be all about governance and not politics. The first meeting of the group – due on March 18 -- had to be postponed because his counterparts in other states were caught up with budget and other issues, he said.
Indicating that the platform was very much on track, he said he had several rounds of meetings with others and his letter to them was a means to finalise the date of the meeting.
"Everyone had their own business. Almost everyone was busy on 18th and 19th March because everyone has budget session… This is a work in progress and not possible before mid-April," he told NDTV.
On March 5, Mr Kejriwal had written to seven Chief Ministers, inviting them to Delhi on March 18. The idea was to find common cause and form a "progressive group ". The letter -- accessed by NDTV -- was sent on February 5 to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan, Tamil Nadu's MK Stalin, Jharkhand's Hemant Soren and others. The forum was supposed to be announced at a press conference the same evening.
Today, Mr Kejriwal said it was a "breach of protocol" that he has to announce the forum, "when eight of us were supposed to hold a press conference together".
As for its activities, the group, he said, has decided to visit one of the eight states each month and "learn from each other".
Ahead of next year's general election, there was speculation that Mr Kejriwal's new forum will have a political spin-off.
With the rapid growth and influence of his Aam Aadmi Party, Mr Kejriwal is seen as one of the opposition's Prime Ministerial hopefuls.
His constant friction with the Centre and its representative, the Lieutenant Governor since coming to power in 2014, and willingness to take Prime Minister Narendra Modi head-on in elections, has added fuel to the speculation.
Mr Kejriwal's efforts to form the front also comes at a time when the opposition stands more divided than ever. Its key leaders – Mamata Banerjee in Bengal and Nitish Kumar in Bihar – had earlier signalled their disinterest.
The Congress has said that it is willing to work with like-minded parties and that it is not angling for a leadership role in a united opposition. But the list of parties and leaders it doesn't see eye-to eye with is long. It includes not only AAP, but Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party and HD Kumaraswamy's Janata Dal Secular.