Karnataka poll: Rahul Gandhi bets on Congress' win

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is scheduled to hold a meeting of leaders of various opposition parties on Friday, the last day of the monsoon session of Parliament. Coming in the wake of Patel, political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, staving off a determined BJP effort to stall his Rajya Sabha prospects, the opposition had aimed at signalling a fresh offensive. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to attend the meeting, which is expected to find ways to extend the demonstrated unity of the like-minded opposition parties in Parliament and take up issues of common concerns through joint agitations. It might also mean that the NCP will not show up for Friday's meeting. The decision was taken on a complaint of the Congress.

While senior NCP leader Praful Patel publicly declared that their party was boycotting the meeting, the Congress put up a fearless face, stating that Pawar had called to say that he would have personally participated in the meeting but was unable to do so as he was unwell.

On Saturday, JD (U) members of the Upper House members backing Nitish met Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu to hand him a letter appointing R.C.P. Singh as their leader in place of Yadav in the House.

Sources close to Congress MP Ahmed Patel hinted that the 44th winning vote he received in the recent Rajya Sabha poll was probably not from one of the two Nationalist Congress Party legislators, but from the lone JD-U MLA, Chotubhai Vasava. "That is why we made a decision to boycott this meeting", Praful Patel said. Nitish Kumar, who was in the capital for a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was unmoved by Sharad Yadav's growing proximity to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.

The Janata Dal (United) will make a formal announcement on joining the NDA in its national executive meeting on August 19 after BJP president Amit Shah invited Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to join the ruling alliance. Mr Ansari was promptly suspended from the parliamentary party.

Speaking about article 371 (J), Gandhi said Congress has fought with the people for this for their development. The CPI (M) leader also said that the Left had problems over having an electoral alliance with the Congress.

Hitting out at the government on demonetisation, Gandhi said, "last year I don't know what happened on November 8th Narendra Modi got an idea, he came on the TV and said Bhaio, Behno I'm going to ban the notes in your pockets.as though it was fun".

Vanessa Coleman

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