“Nitish Formula” Proposed For 2024 In New Opposition Unity Push: Sources

'Nitish Formula' Proposed For 2024 In New Opposition Unity Push: Sources

Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi meet Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav. (File)

New Delhi:

After Sharad Pawar dropped a political bombshell on the opposition in his interview to NDTV, exposing a divide on the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Adani-Hindenburg row, opposition parties appear to be picking up the pieces of what is being seen as one more attempt at forging opposition unity.

The meeting between Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge, and Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav yesterday, is seen to be a leap in that direction.

In the meeting, it was decided that the outreach to various opposition players would follow the divide and conquer strategy, NDTV has learned. While the Congress will reach out to friendly and like-minded parties like Uddhav Thackeray’s faction of Shiv Sena, and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Nitish Kumar has taken up the responsibility of doing the real heavy lifting.

Sources say that Nitish Kumar has agreed to speak to parties who remain equidistant from the BJP and the Congress. This includes reaching out to Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Nitish Kumar didn’t waste time – he met with Arvind Kejriwal last night. “I am completely with him. It is extremely necessary that the entire opposition and the country come together and change the government at the Centre,” Mr Kejriwal said after the meeting.

The Bihar Chief Minister also has the task of reaching out to K Chandrashekar Rao of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi and Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress. Both these parties have refused to do business with the Congress, so it will be interesting to see whether Nitish Kumar’s outreach will bring a turnaround.

Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) has proposed what they call the “Nitish formula” of opposition unity, sources say.

“The only way to win against Narendra Modi is to follow a one against one policy in 2024, which means one seat, one candidate from the opposition against the BJP candidate,” said senior Janata Dal United leader KC Tyagi.

Mr Tyagi told NDTV this is not a new formula, and this strategy has delivered results in 1977 and 1989. However, in both these cases, the Congress party returned to power within two years.

It will also be interesting to see how many players in the opposition ranks are willing to follow the one seat, one candidate formula.

“We will be sitting and discussing various formulas and are willing to have various strategies in the run-up to 2024. The idea is for all like-minded opposition parties to come together on a common meeting ground,” said Nasir Hussain, a Congress MP who was present at the meeting between Nitish Kumar and Mallikarjun Kharge.

As a sub-strategy, Nitish Kumar’s deputy Tejashwi Yadav has been given the responsibility of talking to Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, who is his family friend and relative.

Mr Pawar said he was meant to be part of the Congress-Nitish Kumar meeting but had work. “I will go to Delhi and meet them,” the NCP leader told reporters.

Left leaders said the idea was for “secular, democratic forces” to come together and maximise the anti-BJP vote.

“Nitish Kumar is taking some initiative to build the unity of secular democratic parties. The country is passing through a very critical period. The Constitution and democracy are under attack. It is important for parties to come together against the BJP,” said CPI’s D Raja.

The BJP has responded to this new formation with scepticism. “This is exactly the reason why Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it a coalition of the corrupt. How are they going to ever sort out their internal differences?” said BJP spokesperson RP Singh.

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