Nitish draws hardline as he turns down convener post; Kharge to lead Opposition group

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As the chairperson of the group, Kharge will lead the charge of the Opposition against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Congress president Mallikarjuna Kharge

Congress president Mallikarjuna Kharge

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, January 13: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has reportedly turned down the offer to become the convener of the Opposition group, the Indian National Developmental Alliance (INDIA). The Congress president Mallikarjuna Kharge will be the chairperson of the Opposition alliance, according to informed sources.

Reports emerging from the virtual meeting of the Opposition alliance stated that the Bihar chief minister declined to accept the offer of the post of the convener of the INDIA. He reportedly told the Opposition meeting that the priority of the constituent parties should be to finalize seat adjustments as well as ground works. He was offered the post amid indications that he he is turning restive after becoming the president of the JD (U).

Sources stated that the Bihar chief minister has drawn a hardline on the seat adjustment in Bihar. He is understood to be arguing that the JD (U) will not relinquish claims in the seats that the party had won in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Bihar chief minister is insisting that the JD (U) will not contest on less than 17 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar out of the total 40.

By declining the offer to become the convener of the Opposition alliance, the Bihar chief minister is also understood to have sent out the message that while the JD (U) will contest at least 16 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar the other opposition parties should distribute the rest of the 24 constituencies among themselves.

Kumar’s hardline has now put the Rashtriya Janata Dal in a tight spot as the Congress is staking claims in 10 Lok Sabha seats and the CPI (ML) is also asking for five parliamentary constituencies. In this backdrop, the seat adjustment talks in the Opposition may become a hot cake to handle for the convener. This could explain the reason why the Bihar chief minister turned down the offer to take the post of the convener of the Opposition alliance.

Meanwhile, Kharge will now be emerging as the face of the Opposition alliance. As the chairperson of the group, Kharge will lead the charge of the Opposition against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Kharge in the last meeting had turned down the proposal of him becoming the prime ministerial face of the Opposition.     

With Kharge in the driving seat of the Opposition, the alliance is also facing a test of unity as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee didn’t attend the virtual meeting as she cited a prior commitment. The Trinamool Congress also has ruled out leaving aside more than two Lok Sabha seats for the Congress in West Bengal.

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