Sources said the meeting may be held in the last two weeks of May, after results of the Karnataka polls are declared.
NEW DELHI: The anti-BJP parties that are trying to come together to defeat the BJP in next year’s general election, are going to converge in Patna in the coming days to deliberate on the pattern of seat distribution.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who has taken up the mantle of forging this pan-India alliance, is yet to decide on a specific date as some of the key leaders have still not confirmed their participation for this meet which will be marked by a “huge” rally at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan.
Sources said this meeting is likely to be held in the last two weeks of May, after the results of the Karnataka assembly elections are declared on 13 May. The two possible dates for this rally could either be 16 May (the result of the 2014 General elections were declared on this date) or 26 May (when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had first taken the oath).
While Kumar has so far been successful in meeting these leaders and convince them to come to Patna, the major problem that he is going to face is to tell the leaders of these respective parties to fight the BJP on the principle of “one common candidate on each seat” so as to ensure that the anti-BJP votes do not get divided.
While he is likely to manage this permutation and combination in Bihar, he will face massive difficulties in other states where the Congress and the regional parties have a considerable say on the electorates. Sources said that confirmation was yet to be received from Odisha Chief Minister and the Chief of Biju Janata Dal Naveen Patnaik, who so far has chosen to stay out of any anti-BJP camp, but is veering towards joining it now in wake of the aggressive attitude that the BJP is now adopting in Odisha.
Earlier this week, Kumar sent his emissaries to Maharastra to seek a confirmation from NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena leader Udhav Thackeray and invited them for this gathering at Gandhi Maidan. Both have agreed to this.
To be sure, it was West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee who had suggested to Kumar on 24 April to hold this meet in Patna rather than in any other states. Apart from the NCP, Shiv Sena and TMC, Kumar has so far taken an in-principle approval for the Patna meet from Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party, Congress and the Left Parties.
The others who are expected to be a part of this grouping includes the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Bhartiya Rashtra Samiti (BRS) apart from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) which is in alliance with Kumar in Bihar.
Banerjee had suggested that the meeting should be convened at Patna as Jayaprakash Narayan had started his movement against the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, in 1974 from Patna.
Assuming all these leaders turn up for the meeting and some sort of arrangement is reached regarding seat sharing, Kumar would have created a grouping that will impact the states of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Delhi, Telangana and Odisha apart from Bihar and the states where Congress is still in power (three) and in a combative position.
As of today, the Congress has 664 MLAs, TMC 225, AAP 161, DMK 139, Left (all three combined) 115, BJD 113, Samajwadi Party 112, BRS 103, RJD 81, NCP 63, JDU 46, JMM 29 and Shiv Sena (Thackeray) 17. In total, this grouping has 1868 elected MLAs. The BJP on its own has 1416 MLAs.
The only major regional parties who have so far shared no interest in joining this initiative of Kumar includes the YSR Congress. These anti-BJP groupings have a total of 166 Lok Sabha MPs. Congress has 50, DMK 24, TMC 23, JDU 16, BJD 12, BRS 9 , NCP 5, SP 3, CPI (M) 3, CPI 2 and JMM 1 while Shiv Sena has 19. The BJP at present has 302 MPs.