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Nitish Kumar Pitches for Opposition Unity Ahead of 2024 Elections; Will Bihar CM Anchor Possible Front?

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar seemed buoyant after holding multiple meetings with opposition parties in Delhi on Thursday, for the purpose of putting up a united front for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. While he refused to comment on what the BJP thought or said, Kumar said there was a positive response by the opposition and talks will continue.

His three-day visit to Delhi ended and he returned to Patna in the evening. Lalan Singh, the national president of the JD(U), was also with him. On reaching Patna, Kumar spoke to the media.

“Don’t worry, everything is going well. Meetings were done for opposition unity and everyone has given a positive response. You all know that. Talks are on and we will continue talking to other parties. We all have to come together and a decision will be taken soon. I don’t want to comment on what BJP leaders say or think. They have done nothing,” he said.

Kumar now seems to have the responsibility of bringing together six political parties, including Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal, K Chandrashekhar Rao’s BRS and Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP.

The Congress will contact the rest of the parties. The decision was taken on Wednesday during a meeting in 10 Rajaji Marg, which is party president Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence in New Delhi. CNN-News18 accessed information about an upcoming united opposition meeting that will take place in the last week of April or the first week of May, as soon as Nitish and the Congress finish talking to parties.

The Bihar CM is likely to assume a pivotal role in the whole campaign for the much-awaited Lok Sabha polls. According to sources, in his meeting with Lalu Prasad Yadav, Nitish discussed the matter of opposition unity.

“I have been in touch with Lalu Prasad over phone and met him today. We will let you know about the question of opposition unity later,” Nitish said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Nitish visited deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav’s residence at New Friends Colony and met Rajshri (Tejashwi’s wife) to bless the couple’s newborn. Nitish Kumar’s team, comprising Tejashwi, minister Sanjay Jha and MP Manoj Jha, met Kharge and senior leader Rahul Gandhi.

“Today, Rahul Gandhi, Nitish ji, Tejashwi and other senior leaders are present. We had a historic meeting where we discussed numerous issues and we have decided that we all need to be united. Everyone has decided that all the parties should contest the elections together. All parties must be united and fight the election,” Kharge said.

Nitish said the plan is to “bring together as many opposition parties against the BJP as possible” and “chart a common path” by focusing on mutual agreements instead of disagreements. He added that once all opposition parties begin to talk positively towards this course, people may be surprised to see how many of them come together on a common platform.

While addressing the media, Gandhi said: “To bring the opposition together, we had a crucial meeting. It is a process; the vision of the opposition will be developed. We will fight the ideological war. A historic decision has been taken today to unite the opposition.”

Nitish also met Kejriwal at his residence later in the evening. “The common man is worried about inflation. There should be a government that can give development to the country and get rid of other problems. Nitish ji has taken the initiative of gathering everyone and shaping an opposition and we are completely with them,” Kejriwal said.

Nitish also met Left leaders Doraisamy Raja, CPI general secretary and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury individually and discussed a future course of action. “Seat adjustment will be done on a state level. We are confident that we are moving ahead. Every state has its challenge and so tactics will be different in different states. The main focus will be to uproot the BJP from the Centre. In 2004, the UPA was formed after the election. We should not jump the guns right now,” Yechury said.

Meanwhile, Bihar BJP president Samrat Chaudhary said: “I do not understand who Nitish Kumar wants to unite. All the people I have met want to become PM. He is the chief minister of Bihar, first he should worry about Bihar. Here, people are fighting unemployment, there are riots taking place and they are busy pursuing a dream that will never be fulfilled.”

An encouraging sign was that NCP chief Sharad Pawar declared his party’s support for forming an opposition front. The coming together of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, Congress, and the NCP to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi is also positive for this whole movement. In states like Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu, the Congress-led UPA already appears strong.

Nitish believed that the Congress was a direct electoral rival of the BJP in as many as 250 seats, denouncing the idea of a non-Congress opposition front advanced by leaders like KCR and Mamata or even Akhilesh. There still lies a challenge ahead for Nitish Kumar to appease these leaders and bring them into the fold for a united opposition front.

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