Dumped by the Congress ahead of LoK Sabha elections, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is convening a meeting of over a dozen political parties here on February 5 to shape a ‘credible’ third political alternative ahead of Lok Sabha polls. The parties who have so far given consent for the meeting include the AIADMK, the Asom Gana Parishad, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, the Samajwadi Party, the JD(S), and four Left Parties. Sources in the JD(U) told dna that Biju Janata Dal leader and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has also agreed to participate.
Elaborating on the proposed alliance, senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi said the idea was to bring together all erstwhile Janata Dal factions, who earned political limelight on the anti-Congress plank in 1988.
“Congress has failed to face the challenges posed by the communal forces in the country. The parties coming together will essentially form pre-poll political understanding which may transform into a political front after the polls. We are sure the alliance will turn even bigger after the elections,” he said. The understanding includes attending and bolstering each others political campaign rather entering into any seat sharing arrangements.
Sources said on the condition of anonymity that senior JD (U) leaders have met Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also to build bridges for a post-poll alliance. Addressing a rally in Kolkata on Thursday Mamata had said Congress is not an alternative to BJP and BJP is not an alternative to Congress. “A federal front should be formed,” she said. The talks are also on with the YSR Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy, who held a closed door meeting for almost two hours with Nitish in December. Reddy has told leaders he would open cards only after watching moves of political parties when a bill on Telengana is tabled in parliament.
Feelers are likely to be sent to Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati to keep her in good humour for a post-poll tie-up. She has refused to enter into any pre-poll alliance.
Asked about challenges ahead to cobble up this third front, Tyagi said, “If they want to be a part of a secular alliance in their state, they will never ally with the BJP.” This essentially seems the pivot of the alliance Nitish is trying to build up.
However, the BJP feels this alliance will not last long and would end up strengthening Congress. “Their ultimate game is to anyhow strengthen the UPA in the post-poll scenario. Also this kind of alliance will have least impact on electoral politics at state level,” said Sushil Modi, Bihar BJP leader.
Nitish camp looks at it differently though. “There is no dearth of credible political leaders outside the Congress and the BJP. And we are not looking at an absolute unity, but maximum unity. The Narendra Modi phenomenon will not go beyond the Hindi heartland and will remain negligible across India,” said Pawan Verma, advisor to Nitish Kumar and a former bureaucrat.
On why Nitish has stoked the third front matter just when the election is about to be announced and especially immediately after losing out to Lalu in allying with Congress, Tyagi said, “Nitish Kumar had been at it for a long time now. We have had over dozen meeting with Mulayam Singh and Deve Gowda. These meetings happened before Cong-RJD alliance.