Nitish Kumar’s first Opposition unity meet in Patna next month

As a starter, Opposition leaders will seek to put up a united face in order to send a message of unity to the Centre-ruling BJP

NEW DELHI | Updated: 29 May, 2023 10:51 am IST
Nitish Kumar will be conducting such surprise inspections every week

NEW DELHI: In a determined effort to forge unity among non-BJP parties ahead of the 2024 general election, Janata Dal (United) leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s first Opposition meeting will bring together regional satraps in Patna on June 12.

The meeting follows a series of marathon huddles with regional heavyweights like Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh, Uddhav Thackeray in Maharashtra, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal, Telangana’s KCR, and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.

As a starter, Opposition leaders will seek to put up a united face in order to send a message of unity to the Centre-ruling BJP, which, despite a high-pitched battle failed to clinch West Bengal last year and suffered a major setback in Karnataka this month.

Prominent Opposition figures like Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee – a vocal critic of PM Modi who does not get along with the Congress will be seen at the gathering. According to TMC sources, Banerjee has played a crucial role in Kumar’s efforts to form a formidable anti-BJP force before PM Modi seeks a third term for him.

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The idea of organizing the meeting in Bihar was proposed by Banerjee during her meeting with Nitish Kumar in Kolkata on April 24. “I have requested Nitish Ji for all opposition party meetings in Bihar, which will convey a message of togetherness and unity among the Opposition,” she had said, emphasizing the need to set aside ego.

While the Opposition is discussing unity, forging alliances among themselves is not currently on the table. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar along with his deputy Tejasvi Yadav, personally met counterparts from Opposition parties to gather support for this crucial meeting.

Previously, Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) was in alliance with the BJP until August 2022. Subsequently, the party formed an alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress, and the Left front to form the government.

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Kumar held in-person meetings with Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik in their respective states.

Kumar has expressed support for Delhi CM over the Central government’s recent controversial ordinance granting the Lieutenant Governor the powers to appoint or transfer bureaucrats.

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Kejriwal, who was working on his own plan of convening a meeting of like-minded Opposition parties until a few months back, is expected to attend the meeting as it could serve as a one-stop destination for him to appeal for support over the ordinance which has reversed gains made by a recent Supreme Court order.

Sources within the JD (U) party suggest that this meeting will bring about a significant change in the dynamics among Opposition political parties, paving the way for a united front in the upcoming elections.

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