Nitish meets Sonia to shape up anti-BJP alliance for 2019
Amid efforts to float a united front of Opposition parties to take on the BJP in the next General Elections and the upcoming Presidential poll, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. Nitish is also reportedly in touch with senior leaders of the NCP, the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and the Left to unite the Opposition to stop the Modi juggernaut across the country.
Sources said that Nitish and Sonia met at the latter’s residence and are believed to have discussed the current political situation in the country and deliberated on the grand alliance. The meeting comes days after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi attended the 100th anniversary of the civil disobedience movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi at Champaran in Bihar.
Nitish reportedly conveyed to Sonia that the Congress should take the lead in uniting the Opposition.
The Congress too is open to the idea, but it’s not clear if it would be ready to pass on the leadership of the proposed alliance to a non-Congress leader. Nitish is seen as one of the contenders to lead such a grand alliance.
Janata Dal (United) used the meeting to call for a joint Opposition candidate for the election to the President’s post and urged Gandhi to take the lead in the matter. JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi, however, insisted that the issue of presidential election was not discussed in the meeting and added it was his party’s view that a strong joint Opposition candidate will be in national interest.
“There should be a joint Opposition candidate for the top Constitutional post and Sonia Gandhi being the leader of the largest Opposition party should take the lead,” he said.
The grand alliance buzz gained momentum after the BJP’s stupendous show in the recent Assembly polls. Senior Opposition leaders including NCP president Sharad Pawar, BSP supremo Mayawati, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, have already called for stitching together such a front.
Kumar has been calling for forging a grand alliance of secular parties at the national level on the lines of the 2015 electoral alliance or ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar to take on the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress is currently a partner in the Bihar Government with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Lalu Prasad’s RJD, after the three parties contested and won the Assembly elections as part of the grand alliance.
According to sources, in their one-on-one meeting, Nitish and Sonia especially discussed the outcome of the recent Assembly polls in five States and the need for the Opposition parties to come together.
Stressing the need to rope in the Left parties, close sources of Nitish said he also discussed with Sonia the need for a Common Minimum Programme for the constituent parties to create a political roadmap for the country.
With this, the JD(U) is also trying to regain its strength in Bihar as the party’s tally had dropped from 20 to just two in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The Congress’ tally dropped from 206 in 2009 to just 44. However, in the 2015 Bihar Assembly polls, the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance emerged as a success political story which in fact then had also shaken the BJP’s leadership.
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