With BSP not invited and RLD staying away, Akhilesh to be only opposition face from UP at Patna rally

Neither has the Mahagathbandhan extended any invite to Mayawati for the Patna rally nor did Nitish Kumar find it imperative to meet her during his visit to Lucknow to meet SP chief Akhilesh Yadav.
(From L to R) A collage of Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. (Photo | PTI)
(From L to R) A collage of Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. (Photo | PTI)

LUCKNOW: With two prominent faces -- BSP chief Mayawati and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) president Jayant Chaudhury -- from the opposition in UP to keep away from the mega rally of leaders of 17 opposition parties under the tutelage of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in Patna on Friday, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is likely to be the only opposition face from Uttar Pradesh, politically the most crucial state of the Hindi heartland.

While BSP chief Mayawati took to Twitter to rule out her participation in the opposition’s Patna congregation saying it was more of just a posturing of unity among opposition parties irrespective of their ideological differences, RLD president Jayant Chaudhary has written to Nitish Kumar expressing his inability to participate in the rally due to a “pre-decided family programme”.

Interestingly, neither has the Mahagathbandhan extended any invite to Mayawati for the Patna rally so far nor did Nitish Kumar find it imperative to meet her during his visit to Lucknow to meet SP chief Akhilesh Yadav on April 23.

Though the Chaudhary-led Rashtriya Lok Dal is a Samajwadi Party ally, differences between the two parties had emerged during the last few months especially over seat-sharing in the recently-concluded UP urban local body elections. However, RLD leaders said on Thursday that the differences between the two allies had been resolved.

In his letter written on June 12, Jayant Chaudhary had said it was “the need of the hour that like-minded opposition parties unite while dictatorial and communal powers have become a threat to democracy and social harmony”.

Wishing luck to Nitish Kumar, Jayant had written: “After holding discussions on the country’s problems and challenges, the opposition can put forward a visionary and pragmatic approach in front of the people. Together we can win the confidence of youth, women, farmers and deprived sections and bring about positive change in the country.” Thus with Mayawati and Jayant Chaudhury staying away from the Patna rally, only Akhilesh Yadav is seen bearing the opposition’s flag in the rink.

Consequently, the scenario does not support speculation of a possible SP-BSP alliance in UP like 2019. Even during the review of her party’s preparedness for 2024, Mayawati did not leave any opportunity to target the SP regime on Wednesday. However, she was equally vocal about the ‘BJP misgovernance.’ In the current Lok Sabha, while the BSP has 10 MPs, the SP has just three and Congress one. The rest of the 66 seats are occupied by the ruling BJP and its ally Apna Dal (S).

According to JD(U) chief spokesperson KC Tyagi, the BSP and some regional parties were not invited for the Patna rally as they did not seem committed to fight the ruling BJP with all their might in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

However, Tyagi’s statement could be seen in sync with Akhilesh Yadav’s oft-repeated claim that the BSP was the B team of the BJP in the 2022 UP Assembly polls. Akhilesh had claimed that the BSP had fielded candidates not to win but to check the SP tally from going upward. He had even claimed that BSP tickets were decided in the BJP office.

Significantly, BSP leaders had been projecting Mayawati as the prime ministerial candidate and even before the Patna meeting was decided, BSP leaders had claimed that their party would join the opposition bloc only if the BSP chief was declared the PM candidate.

“Such conditions are detrimental to opposition unity at a time when no other party in the camp was talking about PMship,” said a JD(U) leader in Lucknow.

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