Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will skip today's opposition meet which will be chaired by Congress's Sonia Gandhi. All three parties have their political issues with the Congress. Those in the ruling NDA claim there is a slight softness in their approach towards the BJP.
The Congress had sent invites to 18 opposition parties earlier this week for the meet which would be held through video-conference at 3 pm. The agenda included a whole range of issues including the centre's economic package and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, party sources said those expected to join the meeting are West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray and Jharkhand counterpart Hemant Soren, DMK chief MK Stalin, nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, the Left parties and other UPA partners.
Several invitees, including Ms Banerjee and the Left parties had communicated their acceptance early on. For Uddhav Thackeray, whose Shiv Sena was a BJP ally for 35 years, this would be the first meeting with the united opposition.
The meeting was scheduled to be held in April. Some parties -- especially Sharad Pawar's NCP -- were keen to defer it, but finally conceded there was a need to have a united approach in taking on the Narendra Modi government and its handling of the coronavirus situation.
Sources said the focus will be on the Centre's top down approach usurping powers of the state, the lack of financial help, the migrant crisis and a whole gamut of issues which have affected the people of this country during the world's biggest lockdown.
There are many participants and one of the opposition leaders said, "We only hope it does not become a single focus of only migrants but an overall perspective of complete mismanagement and inept handling of how the government failed to act and what should be the steps taken by the opposition in the coming days".
Parliamentary committees have come to a virtual standstill with the Centre government citing some rules of in camera hearings to not allow any legislative oversight, despite letters from chairman requesting virtual meetings, sources said.
Officially, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha have asked the Secretary General to examine the possibility of meetings, but for over a month, there has been no forward movement, sources said.
Cutting across party lines, most MPs feel that they must have a right to examine the home ministry, finance ministry and other departments on their response to various packages and responses to COVID-19.