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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad to meet Sonia Gandhi on September 25

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar along with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) patriarch Lalu Prasad and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav will meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday.

They are arriving in Delhi to attend a rally to mark the birth anniversary of former deputy Prime Minister and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) founder Devi Lal in Fatehabad, Haryana organised by INLD leader O.P. Chautala.

The meeting assumes importance in the backdrop of discussions on Opposition unity. Both Mr. Kumar and the RJD is pushing for a pre-poll alliance ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election rather than a loosely tied together front. “We are looking at 2004 style pre-poll alliance where alliances can be concretised at the State level between parties who are comfortable sharing space like we have one in Bihar,” a senior RJD leader said. Such an alliance can explored in five major States — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharastra, which together sent 222 members to the Lok Sabha.

Meanwhile, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury asserted that Opposition unity at the national level is a chimera that no one should chase. “I have said it repeatedly, that alliances have to be formed at the State level keeping in mind the unique political factors of each State,” he said.

In 2004 too informal alliances existed prior to the election among the several of the constituent parties of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the State level. The Congress for example was in alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in Jharkhand, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu and the RJD and the LJP in Bihar.

The rally organised by INLD leader O.P. Chautala will be attended by several Opposition leaders including NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, DMK leader Kanimozhi and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah. Mr. Yechury too will be present at the rally. INLD leader and former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala has also sent invitations to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and Telugu Desam Party chief (TDP) Chandrababu Naidu, for attending the public meeting. Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has also been invited.

While Ms. Banerjee will not be attending the rally, the party’s Rajya Sabha Chief Whip Sukendu Shekhar Rao will be representing the Trinamool Congress.

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