Nitish Kumar not to attend INDIA bloc meet as JD-U calls for fresh strategy
Kumar is the second senior opposition leader after his West Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, to likely stay away from the December 6 INDIA meeting
PATNA: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is likely to miss Wednesday’s opposition INDIA bloc meeting, a senior JD-U member said on Tuesday, indicating widening cracks in the political bloc as it struggles to put up a united front against the BJP, which swept to victory in the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in assembly polls earlier this week.
Kumar is the second senior opposition leader after his West Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, to likely stay away from the December 6 INDIA meeting.
Bihar Parliamentary Affairs Minister , who Vijay Kumar Choudharyhas consistently accused the Congress of ignoring regional parties, said Kumar, who attended the Tuesday’s cabinet meeting after recovering from a bout of illness, would not take part in the meeting, “as it was not required”.
“JD-U president Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh and water resources minister Sanjay Jha would attend the meeting. There is not much time left and the Congress should take the message from the debacle in three big states. Time demands that all the leaders of INDIA bloc get down to brass-tacks without further delay with a practical approach and complete distribution of seats in all the states. (The) Nitish Kumar-model is of (a) united fight and if that happens win is not improbable,” said Choudhary.
JD-U general secretary KC Tyagi said that though the Bihar CM would not attend the meeting, RJD chief Lalu Prasad will be there.
“The Nitish model is of giving everyone a level-playing field. The Congress will have to show a big heart. In key states, like Bihar, Maharashtra, UP, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, it will have to offer the reins to much stronger regional parties. After RJD and JD-U, not much is left for the Congress in Bihar. We will give the Congress its due, but it is important to work on strengths for the larger goal. Congress should not try to be overconfident to the extent of ignoring regional parties as it will be counterproductive,” he added.
Tyagi said that the Nitish model is of keeping the doors open for parties like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the YSR Congress for post-poll alliances.
“BJD was carved out of Janata Dal and the YSR Congress was part of the Congress. They are from a socialist background. Today they are not with us, but after polls, they may be helpful if the situation demands. The most important thing is to work out a workable plan and implement it. In many states, regional parties are the force and the Congress needs to understand this. Around 490 seats can be effectively fought,” he added.
On November 2, the Bihar CM was critical of the Congress at a Communist Party of India (CPI) meeting in Patna for being preoccupied with the elections in the five states and neglecting the INDIA formation. After the poll reverses in the three Hindi heartland states, JD-U has attacked the Congress for missing a vital push by ignoring the regional parties in a keenly fought election.
“By failing to honour the commitments of the alliance it formed, and neglecting regional parties, the Congress has fumbled in overconfidence. The JD-U has said what it needed to do and now the Congress has to decide on a fresh strategy by taking everyone along. Nitish Kumar is the initiator of the opposition alliance and his strategy of putting the best foot forward in each state needs to be accepted and applied,” said Tyagi.
The assembly poll debacle in three states should be seen as an opportunity to work together for a realistic fight against a much strong and more organised BJP in 2024, said, DN Diwakar, former director of the AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies.
“Congress is the biggest party in the Opposition, but it cannot go the full distance on its own, as has been proved. It requires effective partners and for that it will have to give others’ space. Regional parties cannot give their space to the Congress. Therefore, a common ground will have to be made and what Nitish Kumar said is all about that. JD-U is not the biggest party even in Bihar, but an arrangement has been made here and that is running,” he added.
JD-U leaders have made it clear that it would like a change in the bloc’s political strategy on the basis of the model proposed by Kumar, which calls for a united fight against the BJP by strengthening and expanding the alliance after assessing the strengths and weaknesses of every constituent and giving all equal importance.
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