In another attempt to stitch together a united Opposition front ahead of the 2024 general election, top leaders of the Congress, Janata Dal (United) (JDU) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) met in Delhi today to explore the possibility of putting up a united fight against the ruling BJP.
The meeting was attended by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, party president Mallikarjun Kharge, Bihar Chief Minister and JDU leader Nitish Kumar, and Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister and RJD chairperson Tejashwi Yadav. JDU president Rajiv Ranjan Singh, RJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar Jha and Congress leader Salman Khursheed were present at the meeting too.
Addressing the media, Mr Kharge said it was a “historic meeting” and that they aim to unite all opposition parties for the upcoming polls.
Mr Gandhi said a “historic step” had been taken to unite Opposition parties. “It is a process, it will develop the Opposition’s vision for the country,” he said.
The Bihar Chief Minister, who is visiting Delhi, said the attempt is to unite as many parties as possible and work together. Ahead of the meeting, Mr Kumar called on RJD patriarch Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is recovering at his daughter Misa Bharti’s residence.
The Congress president tweeted from his official handle that the Opposition leaders had pledged to raise the people’s voice and provide new direction to the country. “We will protect the Constitution and save the country,” he tweeted in Hindi. Mr Kharge has also spoken to DMK president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray earlier.
As the 2024 Lok Sabha election draws closer, Opposition parties have been exploring new equations to take on the incumbent BJP.
However, while some parties have cleared their stand on the question of joining a front, others have sent out mixed signals.
The Trinamool Congress, for example, had initially announced that it would contest the Lok Sabha polls alone. Party chief and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had made the remark after her party lost a by-election. The Trinamool had alleged that the defeat was a result of an understanding between the Left, the Congress and the BJP.
However, the party appeared to be changing its stand after Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as an MP following his conviction in a criminal defamation case over his “Modi surname” remark. Soon after, Ms Banerjee called upon Opposition parties to unite and throw the BJP out of power.
Another key Opposition force that is yet to make clear its stand on joining any front is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The party recently got national status and is in power in Delhi and Punjab. Speaking to the media earlier this month, party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said people’s unity, not Opposition unity, was important. He also said that if parties say they have come together to defeat someone, people don’t like that.
The Bharat Rashtra Samithi, led by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, has made moves for the Opposition front but does not want Congress in it.