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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Lalu gets Sonia invite, sparks speculation on opposition unity

RJD chief Lalu Prasad says a Bihar-like grand alliance is required at the national level to check the BJP’s political surge. He says the move can go a long way in containing “radicalisation and communalisation” of politics

india Updated: Apr 22, 2017 10:51 IST
Subhash Pathak
Subhash Pathak
Hindustan Times, Patna
Congress president Sonia Gandhi with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad
Congress president Sonia Gandhi with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad (File photo/PTI)

A day after Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar met Congress president Sonia Gandhi, RJD chief Lalu Prasad said he would soon meet the AICC chief for a stronger opposition unity against the BJP.

Prasad told reporters in Patna on Friday that he had received an invite from the AICC chief to meet her next week. Nitish Kumar, who is also the president of Janata Dal (United), a partner of RJD in Bihar’s ruling Grand Alliance (GA), had met Gandhi in New Delhi on Thursday and called for the need for the opposition unity ahead of presidential polls due in July.

Prasad welcomed the Congress chief’s gesture and said it could go a long way in containing “radicalisation and communalisation“ of politics.

The RJD chief said a Bihar-like grand alliance was required at the national level to check the BJP’s political surge.

Many in the RJD described the proposed meeting as a much-needed morale booster for beleaguered Prasad, whose family has been under siege by the BJP over recent controversies arising out of construction of a massive shopping mall being built by his family on the state capital’s outskirts.

Leaders of other GA constituents also said the Congress president’s initiative could be the beginning of an exercise to find ways to forge an opposition unity at the national level ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Senior JD(U) leader and former minister Shyam Rajak claimed that the BJP was unnerved by Gandhi’s meeting with Nitish Kumar, as it knew that a Bihar model of mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) could dent the BJP.

“We are looking to broaden the ambit of alliance at the national level. In Bihar, BJP was contained at 53 assembly seats. It got a thumping majority at the Centre, despite opposition parties getting more than 52% votes. We are insisting on the Bihar model nationwide,” said Rajak.

Other JD(U) leaders, including party’s general secretary KC Tyagi, said Nitish Kumar’s talk with Gandhi mainly veered around the upcoming presidential polls and the Bihar CM had urged her to take the lead in mustering support of all opposition parties to put up a candidate in the elections.

“If all opposition parties join hands, we could pose a serious challenge to the candidate fielded by the BJP for the President’s post,” they said, adding that the UP polls, which saw NDA winning 325 out of 403 seats, had definitely dealt a serious blow to the opposition.

Senior BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav, however, dismissed the Congress’ initiative to cobble up unity among the opposition parties as “unworkable” as long as “people are with the BJP.”

First Published: Apr 22, 2017 10:51 IST

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