PATNA: In what appears to be a harbinger of fresh alignment of non-BJP parties, top leaders of Congress, Trinamool Congress, JD(U), RJD, Samajwadi Party and INLD today clearly indicated that they will be coming together to contest future elections.
After the swearing-in of Nitish Kumar as the Chief Minister of Bihar, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Deve Gowda today made a strong push for unity among the parties to counter BJP, a move supported by several chief ministers, including Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav.
"It will be good if we all come together. We are a collective family and the more we come together, the better it would be politically and electorally," West Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee said.
Gowda said it was high time that parties of "similar, secular" thinking came together.
"I am the happiest person today as secular political parties are uniting here in Bihar. I have faith that we all will fight the next general elections together against the BJP," Deve Gowda told PTI at Kumar's swearing-in ceremony.
The 81-year-old former Prime Minister reminisced about his 30-year-old association with Kumar and said it was a pleasure to attend the oath taking ceremony of a colleague of Janata Parivar and a former member of Janata Party, adding that "it was high time that parties of similar, secular thinking came together".
Pointing out that it will be "good" if all like-minded parties come together, Mamata Banerjee said that regional parties were actual grassroots parties, hence better conditioned to think about the needs and welfare of the people. Their unity will help them in their work.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said in a scenario of continuously changing politics it was necessary that the parties believing in secular and socialist ideology should come together to take their message to the public.
"Secular policies and socialist ideology should be taken to the masses by the parties that believe in them. It has become more relevant at a time when the world is coming together through Information Technology and market economy," the UP CM said.
"It is necessary that states have governments which believe in secular and socialist principles. Such governments will be able to take care of people belonging to all strata and usher in an all-inclusive development," Akhilesh added.
The first test of any such unity bid will come towards the end of the year when Bihar goes to polls.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said their coming together to attend Kumar's swearing-in was a "demonstration of all secular parties uniting against the divisive, pro-rich policies being imposed on the country".
In an apparent reference to BJP, Gogoi said "they (BJP) are talking much about market economy and liberalisation of economic policies and it was pertinent that pro-poor and pro-middle class forces come together to counter such policies".
"The market economy and the current economic policies being foisted on the country will not help poor people. They will prove dangerous for the country," Gogoi added.
The sentiments were echoed by All India Congress Committee (AICC) treasurer and senior leader Motilal Vora and AICC General Secretary and Bihar in-charge C P Joshi who were present at the function which happened at Raj Bhawan here.
"Secular forces should work unitedly. It is very important for socio-economic development of the country," Vora said.
The AICC treasurer said he and Joshi have conveyed Congress president Sonia Gandhi's good wishes to Kumar on the occasion and their party hoped he will go ahead on the secular path. Asked whether Congress will go for electoral tie-up with Janata Parivar parties on state and national levels, he said that the high command will decide about it.
Expressing joy on the occasion, JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav said "the Constitution, which had been derailed in Bihar, has come back on track now".
"But it did not happen easily. The public, political parties, legislators, workers and leaders had to work very hard for it. This (Nitish Kumar's oath) has been achieved after very hard efforts and overcoming several obstacles. It will certainly spread a message of unity among us," Sharad Yadav added.
RJD, another major force in the state, is already supporting the Nitish Kumar government while Om Prakash Chautala's INLD is part of the merger talks of Janata Parivar parties.