BENGALURU:The photo-op in front of Vidhana Soudha with a galaxy of leaders from political parties across the country, soon after JD(S) state chief H D Kumaraswamy took oath as the state's Chief Minister, marked the beginning of effort by the opposition to uproot the BJP from the Centre.
Prior to the photo-op — which probably had the highest congregation of leaders from parties across the country — many of the participating leaders — which included Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Delhi — are learnt to have had one-on-one meetings.
During this show of strength, one of the common threads of discussion, it is learnt, is to stitch up a united coalition of regional parties with or without the backing of any national party, including the Congress. The Congress, though, has provided first indications of supporting a coalition of regional parties by being the junior partner in the current Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka.
One of the common theme in statements issued by various political leaders, including the CMs of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, was strengthening regional parties. AP CM Chandrababu Naidu, prior to a brief meeting with West Bengal CM Mamata Bannerjee, said a united alliance of regional parties would provide a better forum for political parties. Tweeting on the issue later, he said that by strengthening regional parties, it would be easy to "work together to protect and promote national interests." Naidu's TDP had recently broken away from BJP-led National Democratic Alliance after the Central government rejected requests for a special status for Andhra Pradesh.
Mamata said that the coalition was being formulated ahead of Lok Sabha polls in 2019. "In the future, we are looking at a scenario where all regional parties of the country can work together," she said. The role of Congress in this coalition is still not clear, as Mamata pointed out that Congress was a different party. "They'll do their job," she said, "and we will do our's."
With leaders from almost every major state or political party thronging Bengaluru for the swearing-in ceremony, meetings and discussions to this effect, according to sources, were widely held throughout the day in the city. Leaders such as Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is learnt to have met Mamata, Naidu and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, among others. While the exact travel plans of leaders such as Akhilesh Yadav, Tejasvi Yadav and Sharad Pawar are not known, it is learnt that anti-BJP coalition was the main subject of discussion.
Even AICC president Rahul Gandhi — who came with his mother Sonia Gandhi — is learnt to have met with a few leaders during his brief visit to the city and during his visit to a private resort where some MLAs are still put up. Though regional parties have gone all guns blazing to ensure a united coalition against BJP, the formation and longevity of the coalition yet remains unclear.