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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

Lalu’s August 27 rally to be a show of strength for opposition unity against BJP

Congress president Sonia Gandhi or vice president Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, SP chief Akhilesh Singh and BSP chief Mayawati, among others, are expected to attend the rally.

patna Updated: Aug 20, 2017 18:29 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, Patna
RJD chief Lalu Prasad flagging off the ‘maharally rath’, ahead of his August 27 rally,  in Patna on Sunday.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad flagging off the ‘maharally rath’, ahead of his August 27 rally, in Patna on Sunday. (AP Dube/HT photo)

A galaxy of leaders from anti-BJP parties are expected to attend the RJD’s ‘BJP Bhagao, Desh Bachao’ rally at Gandhi Maidan here on August 27. The rally purports to be a show of strength by RJD chief Lalu Prasad and an attempt to forge unity among opposition parties at the national level to take on the BJP-led NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.

RJD sources said the event would be attended by either Congress president Sonia Gandhi or party’s vice president Rahul Gandhi. Other prominent leaders who have given their consent to attend the show include TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, SP chief and former UP CM Akhilesh Singh, BSP chief Mayawati, CPM’s general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI senior leader D Raja. 

“We have got confirmation from all these leaders. We have extended invitations to 17 parties, who have come together with the Congress to form a joint opposition platform,” said Bhola Yadav, a close aide of the RJD chief and MLA from Bahadupur in Darbhanga.

He said the INLD, led by Om Prakash Chautala, DMK and a few parties from Jharkhand would also be represented at the event. Prasad’s younger son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav has already undertaken a two phase state wide tour to drum up support for the rally. 

Needless to say, the RJD chief’s decision to invite rebel JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav to the event has become a talking point as Nitish led JD(U) has warned the estranged leader of initiating action against him, if he chooses to join RJD’s show. 

It would be interesting to see whether Sharad chose to be by Prasad’s side, amid indications that the RJD was backing the socialist leader to stoke dissidence within the JD(U) to corner Nitish. Reports said a large number of ‘supporters’ at the JD (U)’s veteran’s Jan Adalat, an event in Patna on Saturday, were actually RJD activists. 

At the event, Sharad had attacked Nitish for “betraying people’s mandate”, endorsing the RJD line on the issue and rued that he was being pushed out his own party. He had headed the Janata Dal, when Lalu Prasad broke away to form the RJD and merged the party with Samata party in 2003 to form the JD (U).

Insiders feel, the RJD chief and Sharad sharing dais will seal a loose pact among the major opposition parties to take on the BJP and may even trigger a formal split in the JD (U).

But how far Prasad, facing the corruption taint owing to fodder scam cases and recent CBI FIR in the ‘land for hotels lease’ scam, wherein two railways hotels were leased out to private parties alleged in return for a gift of valuable land in Patna, may succeed as a rallying point for opposition unity, is still uncertain. 

There is a perception that Prasad is keen on showcasing the event to show his own clout as a Yadav chieftain after the break-up in GA following the JD(U)-BJP realignment in Bihar. The recent Srijan scam is also likely to be used by Prasad to paint JD(U)-BJP alliance as being steeped in corruption. 

“We will approach the Supreme Court to monitor the CBI’s investigation into the scam after the 27 rally, which is going to be a big show,” Prasad said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, TMC chief Mamata, another prominent face of the opposition camp, too, has signalled that she was ready to unite all secular forces to defeat the BJP, describing her position in the proposed united front as not of a ‘flower’ but a ‘vase’.

In a recent interview, she took a dig at CM Nitish Kumar for leaving the GA, stating that one should not bother about one leader leaving the opposition ranks and there were hundreds of leaders Lalu , Sharad and Akhilesh to provide leadership to the anti-BJP thrust.