Opposition leaders meet in Delhi to plan stopping BJP’s march in 2019

In yet another exercise, Opposition leaders are planning to realign themselves to take on the BJP in the 2019 general elections.

india Updated: Aug 11, 2017 13:21 IST
Srinand Jha and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Srinand Jha and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Opposition parties,Congress,Opposition conclave
Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s dramatic victory in the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat has galvanised the party to organise a conclave of Opposition leaders in New Delhi to work out a plan for the 2019 general elections.(HT PHOTO)

Facing an existential crisis, Opposition leaders are meeting Friday afternoon in the national capital to work out joint stratagems to meet the common threat posed by a seemingly unstoppable BJP in the run up to the 2019 general elections.

While Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s success at pulling off victory from the jaws of defeat in the Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat provides hopes, the Nitish Kumar affair in Bihar has dealt a debilitating blow to unity efforts amongst the “secular parties” in recent weeks.

Friday’s assemblage – organized at the initiative of the Congress – is likely to include satraps of regional parties like the Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress and the Biju Janata Dal, apart from representatives of the four Left parties.

Following repeated defeats at the hands of the BJP in a series of elections and the saffron party’s aggressive push to establish footprints in non-BJP ruled states through other means (such as in Bihar), the Opposition leaders are working around the “unite or perish” principle.

While the Congress leaders are reaching out to leaders of breakaway groups (Mamata Banerjee of the TMC, Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party or the YSR Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy), a similar effort to bring together the splinter groups of the Janata Dal factions has been initiated.

In a significant development, Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel met TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday evening to discuss possibilities of a realignment of the Opposition space.

Read more: Amid JD(U) rift, Sonia invites Sharad Yadav to Opposition meeting on Friday

While Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) has not been officially invited to the conclave, it is likely that leaders of the JD (U) rebel factions will attend. Former JD (U) president Sharad Yadav – currently on a tour of Bihar – has already come out in open criticism of Kumar’s decision to change horses mid-way to align with the saffron party.

“Kumar’s move violates the Bihar mandate of 2015, which was to keep the BJP out of power,” Yadav said at a roadside rally near Patna on Thursday.

First Published: Aug 11, 2017 12:45 IST