Road to 2024: Nitish to meet Naveen, KCR next in bid for Opposition unity
The likely move assumes significance as the BJD chief has been maintaining equidistance from Congress and BJP
NEW DELHI: In his efforts to broaden Opposition unity, Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) supremo Nitish Kumar will meet Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao.
Nitish has already met West Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata and Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow. Nitish was accompanied by his Deputy CM and RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav.
A senior JD (U) leader told TNIE that Kumar’s next stop will be Odisha and Telangana to meet his counterparts and bring together the Opposition parties to stitch an anti-BJP alliance in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. However, the dates of the meetings are yet to be decided, he added.
The meeting will be significant as BJD chief Patnaik has been maintaining equal distance from Congress and BJP since he exited NDA in 2008. However, he has supported the BJP government in the passage of several important Bills in Parliament.
The leader said both Nitish and Patnaik share a long camaraderie since they were part of United Janata Dal. The BJD was formed in 1997 with leaders from the breakaway faction of Janata Dal. “Naveen’s father Biju Patnaik was our leader in Lok Dal and in Janata Party also,” said the JD (U) leader. Nitish is a product of the JP Movement of 1974-75. While he is expected to reach out to YSRCP chief and Andhra Pradesh CM Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, the JD(U) leader said that no discussions have taken place yet. YSRCP is largely seen as close to the BJP.
Incidentally, Mamata Banerjee, after her meeting with Nitish, spoke about the JP movement, requesting Kumar to hold a meeting of the Opposition parties in Bihar. “I have made just one request to Nitish. Jayaprakash Narayan‘s movement began in Bihar. If we have an all-party meeting in Bihar, we can then decide where we have to go next. But first, we have to give a message that we are united,” said Banerjee.
Signaling her willingness to work with Congress, Banerjee said, “I don’t have a personal ego to work with any party. Nitish ji will be talking to other opposition parties as I am also talking to people,”, she said.
Kumar, who later met Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow, has expressed confidence about a broader Opposition unity. Early this month, Kumar met Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja. In the meeting, it was decided that the Bihar CM will hold dialogues with parties like TMC, BRS, and SP which don’t share a good equation with Congress.
JD(U) leader exuded confidence that BRS will also be on board with other Opposition parties. He said BRS has been part of the Opposition grouping in Parliament on the Adani row, the Centre’s misuse of agencies, and the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi, among others. All the Opposition parties are expected to convene a meeting towards the end of April or after the Karnataka elections to evolve strategies and a common minimum program ahead of the 2024 elections.