Nitish Kumar carries burden to reconcile Opposition fault lines


Photo credit video grab of meeting shared by Mallikarjuna Kharge

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, May 22: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called on Congress president Mallikarjuna Kharge at his Delhi residence where he was flanked by Rahul Gandhi. The Opposition leaders discussed roadmap to carry the Opposition unity plank in the days to come.

Congress national general secretary K C Venugopal told the waiting reporters that the Opposition parties would soon be holding a major show of strength. Kharge too tweeted after the meeting to state that his discussion with the Bihar chief minister was focused in giving new direction to the country and strengthen democracy.

Sources said that the Bihar chief minister has a specific task on hand to bring about the Opposition unity on the basis of an electoral formula. Essentially, four regional satraps have reservations over the role of the Congress in the Opposition unity plank.

“Trinamool Congress (TMC), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) have reservations over the role of the Congress in the Opposition unity bid. The regional parties want the Congress not to play on their turfs, which remains a sticking point as of now, and that’s the key agenda of Kumar’s outreach with the Opposition parties,” sources said.

The Bihar chief minister is learnt to have tested the thoughts of the Congress leaders on the idea that the main Opposition party cedes the spaces to the regional satraps on their turfs and help in not splitting the Opposition vote base. Or, sources said, the Congress may opt for friendly contests to a limited number of parliamentary constituencies in the regions dominated by the TMC, AAP, SP and BRS. Sources said that the Congress may not strike a pre-poll electoral adjustment with any of the four regional parties.

It may be recalled that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has counselled the Congress to focus on 200 odd parliamentary seats where the main Opposition party is in direct contest with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Tejashwi Yadav has also argued the case for the Congress to focus on just 200 Lok Sabha seats.

But the Congress may not be ready to abandon the territories of west Bengal, Delhi, Punjab, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh altogether, which account for a total of 159 Lok Sabha seats. Besides, the Congress still has representations in parliament from West Bengal, UP, and Punjab. The Congress is also not ready to abandon Telangana. But the Congress may be persuaded to focus on seats in these four states where the party had either won the seats or had come second, and stay away from contests on all other constituencies, sources said.           

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