Amidst contradictions and dilemmas, renewed efforts at cobbling together a coalition of regional parties as a national political alternative to the NDA have begun, with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar accepting INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala to address a farmers rally at Karnal on March 6.
The “Jat” community in Haryana and adjoining states has reportedly been upset with the NDA government on account of the non-fulfillment of their demand for inclusion in the reservation in the OBC category and has also been demanding a higher remuneration as the Minimum Support Price for agricultural crops.
After reaching the “in principle” agreement for a merger between JD(U) and Ajit Singh’s RLD and establishing contact with NDA allies including Apna Dal, the Bihar CM’s outreach in Haryana seems encouraging, but comes at a cost. Prakash Singh Badal’s SAD – although an alliance partner of the BJP in Punjab – has supported and campaigned for the INLD in past assembly elections in Haryana. Will the emerging axis between the JD(U) and the INLD disturb Chautala’s equations with the SAD leaders?
Similar issues seem emerging in Punjab, with Kumar’s election manager Prashant Kishor having decided to support the Congress prospects for the state’s assembly elections next year.
AAP leaders have not taken kindly to the development. “Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had extended support to JD(U) in last year’s assembly elections in Bihar. We would expect the JD(U) to return the favour in Punjab,” an AAP leader said. “If it is Kumar’s aim to emerge the rallying point of the non-Congress and non-BJP parties, he will need Kejriwal’s support more than that of the Congress”, argued an AAP leader.
JD(U) spokesman KC Tyagi reasoned that the perceived or real contradictions between regional parties would evaporate in pursuance of the larger goal of providing an effective challenge to the BJP-led NDA. “The phase of anti-Congressism is over. The current challenge is to confront and defeat the communal forces,” he said.