New Delhi: The first joint meeting of Opposition parties, which was scheduled to be held in Patna on June 12, has been postponed, news agency PTI sources said on Sunday. The meeting was deferred following a request by the Congress and DMK. The Congress and DMK signalled its inability to send its top leaders because of their prior commitments.
There is talk of holding the discussions at a later time so that Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Congress, and some other important opposition figures could attend and give the meeting the prominence it deserves. Rahul Gandhi is currently on a six-day visit to the US. Now, the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s mega meeting is likely to be held on June 23.
Meeting deferred after Congress, DMK request
Sources said Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and DMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin were also finding it difficult to attend the meeting on June 12 due to prior commitments.
Congress on Opposition meeting
The Congress wanted the meeting to take place after June 20 so that both party president Mallikarjun Kharge and senior leader Rahul Gandhi, who is currently on a tour of the United States, could attend it.
The Congress said it will participate in the June 12 meeting of opposition parties in Patna. However, the party is yet to decide on who will attend the meeting. “The Congress will surely participate in the June 12 meeting of opposition leaders in Patna. However, who will participate is not decided. The Congress party will soon decide who will attend the meeting,” AICC general secretary communications Jairam Ramesh told reporters. “But, the Congress is surely attending that opposition meeting,” he asserted.
The DMK too, wants the meeting deferred as it is clashing with a government function that Chief Minister MK Stalin has to attend.
Nitish Kumar’s efforts to forge a united front against BJP
The June 12 meeting was called by Kumar in consultation with leaders of various parties and several chief ministers of opposition-ruled states. Senior leaders of opposition parties were expected to attend the meeting.
However, the JD(U) leader Kumar has taken a lead in speaking to several regional satraps besides the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, and the Left to forge unity among opposition ranks to take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Notably, Bihar CM Kumar met several opposition leaders last month as part of efforts to forge a united front against the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. He had met Kharge and Rahul Gandhi last month and prior to that, he had a meeting with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Significantly, Bihar Chief Minister Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and National Conference President Farooq Abdullah attended the swearing-in ceremony of Siddaramaiah as the Karnataka chief minister, in a show of opposition unity. Some regional leaders, including Kejriwal and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, were not invited to the ceremony. Kumar, though, has been trying to bring them on board as well.
Opposition plan to defeat BJP
The opposition has plans to put forward one common candidate to defeat the BJP to upstage them from power at the Centre, but some have expressed reservations over such a proposal as some parties have aspirations to contest the maximum number of seats.
The Congress also is not inclined to restrict itself to around 200 seats and wants to contest more seats, claiming that it is a national player unlike many regional outfits and has a presence across the country. It has also contended that it is the only party that can directly take on the BJP due to its national footprint. The Congress’ contention has got a boost after the Karnataka win where it emphatically beat BJP in a direct contest.
The Janata Dal (U), Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress are in a coalition government in Bihar and the three parties have been in talks to bring other opposition parties together on a common platform in their fight against the BJP. Kharge had earlier spoken to several opposition leaders including M K Stalin and Uddhav Thackeray, in an attempt to forge unity among like-minded parties to take on the BJP.
(With PTI inputs)