Oppn bloc INDIA’s Mumbai meeting may be deferred to Sept as some leaders unavailable on Aug 25-26

New Delhi: The opposition alliance INDIA is likely to defer its third meeting in Mumbai to the first week of September after some leaders conveyed they may be unavailable on August 25-26 due to other engagements, sources said on Saturday.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, whose party recently saw a split, will embark on a tour of Maharashtra from mid-August and is among the leaders who will be unavailable next month, they said.

“August 25-26 is still under consideration but we are looking at another set of dates to ensure that everyone is available,” a senior leader of the INDIA bloc in Mumbai said.

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting of the Maha Vikas Aghadi on Friday, Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole said MVA leaders have rallies lined up in August which had taken a backseat due to the monsoon.

The MVA constituents — Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena (UBT) — are scheduled to meet again next Saturday.

While the Congress is leading the 26-member opposition alliance’s efforts nationally, it was considered a junior partner in Maharashtra due to its numbers in the state assembly till the Shiv Sena and the NCP saw a split in their ranks.

Former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray was projected as the leader of the MVA in the ‘Vajramuth’ rallies of the coalition before Ajit Pawar’s rebellion led to a split in the NCP.

Thackeray’s party has taken the lead in organising the Mumbai meeting of the opposition alliance.

“The Shiv Sena is coordinating the meeting dates as far as we have been told. We were given to understand that it was August 25-26. Now, we hear that Sharad Pawar is unavailable on those days. These things happen when one has to coordinate with 26 parties, nothing unusual. We faced this issue even when the Patna meeting was being planned,” another leader said.

Pawar’s scheduled event in Pune on August 1 where he will share the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also raised doubts among some opposition party leaders, the sources said.

Many members are learnt to have expressed concern during a meeting of the INDIA bloc members on Friday with some saying that a senior member of the alliance sharing stage with Modi will reflect badly on the coalition.

The INDIA bloc’s first meeting was held in Patna in June and the second in Bengaluru earlier this month.