The Janata Dal (United), the Congress and the RJD are looking to convert Nitish Kumar’s oath-taking ceremony in Patna on November 20 into a platform where anti-BJP political forces can converge by inviting non-BJP Chief Ministers but excluding all BJP leaders.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, all Congress Chief Ministers, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav are expected to be the prominent invitees.
“No Minister from the Modi government is being invited. Regional party leaders and non-BJP Chief Ministers are being invited to the event, as it is the policy decision of our three parties that we are fighting the politics of the BJP,” Janata Dal (United) leader K.C. Tyagi told The Hindu .
He, however, added: “The JD(U) has great respect for L.K. Advani but we have to agree with the decision taken by all Grand Alliance partners.”
This happened on a day when Uttar Pradesh CM Mr. Yadav said in Sant Kabir Nagar that there could be a grand alliance in the State for the 2017 assembly polls there.
Mr. Yadav’s party had not joined the grand alliance in Bihar, opening itself to the charge of dividing anti-BJP votes.‘Befitting reply’
However, Mr. Tyagi said, “Akhilesh Yadav is part of the design of opposing the BJP.” He also welcomed the statement of the Dalai Lama that the Bihar verdict showed most Hindus wanted “peace and amity”, saying that this was a befitting reply to extremist forces and that “forces of tolerance are in majority”.
Potential anti-BJP alliances, however, must involve a level of rapprochement on the part of regional parties that have fought one another in the past.
In Uttar Pradesh, for instance, an SP-BSP alliance seems extremely difficult to carve, given the differences between Mayawati and SP supremo Mulayam Singh.
While the two parties had come together todefeat the BJP in 1993, the Lucknow guest house attack on Mayawati in 1995 allegedly by SP men after she withdrew support to the Mulayam Singh government set off a long-standing rivalry. Ms. Mayawati hasn’t been able to do business with the SP since then.
However, it is the Congress and Ajit Singh’s RLD that can look to align with the SP or the BSP in the State to take on a refurbished BJP.
A day back, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had gestured to Congress workers from Bihar and said: “You in alliance with Nitish and Lalu had given a massive jolt to the ideology of the BJP and RSS. We are going to do the same elsewhere in the country.”
The idea of pooling resources to take on a powerful political competitor isn’t new in India.
It was BJP’s predecessor Jana Sangh that formed Samyukta Vidhayak Dal governments in alliance with the socialists in some states in 1967, defeating the Congress on an “anti-Congress-ism” plank.
Jayaprakash Narayan’s Janata Party that trounced the Congress in 1977 had been formed by the merger of Jana Sangh, Socialist Party, Congress (O) of Morarji Desai and Bharatiya Lok Dal of Charan Singh.