Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Friday presided over the Opposition parties meeting under way here flanked on either side by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad. Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Omar Abdullah were also present to voice their concerns.
Leaders of more than a dozen opposition political parties sat inside a sprawling conference room to chalk out a joint strategy to defeat BJP in the Lok Sabha poll in 2024.
Although media personnel were not allowed to cover the meeting, a short video clip of the same was shared on the WhatsApp group of the CM house.
Kharge was seen engaged in an animated conversation with Kumar, who was seated on his right side, while Rahul Gandhi, who was seated on his left, listened attentively. Lalu Prasad was seated between Kumar and Mamata Banerjee.
A sneak peak
Apart from discussing plans to defeat the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, several leaders urged the Congress to support the Delhi Ordinance. But Omar Abdullah reportedly didn't entertain the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, blaming him for his stand on Article 370.
Pawar, Uddhav play peacemaker between AAP and Congress
According to some online reports, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray attempted to sort out the differences between the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party.
Mamata points a finger at Congress
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has reportedly objected to Congress party's attitude in Bengal. "We are here to fight against the BJP together. We are looking at a 1:1 formula to fight the Lok Sabha polls. Whatever policy we decide from this meeting will be applicable to every party."
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How it stands
In the current Lok Sabha the combined strength of these parties accounts for less than 200 of the 543 seats, though their leaders are hopeful of together turning the tables on the saffron party which enjoys a brute majority with a 300 plus tally.
The Congress, which is seen as the principal rival of BJP, had won just a little over 50 seats, which was a slight improvement over its performance in 2014 when it won only 44 - an all time low.
Now riding high on its successes in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka and the response to Rahul Gandhi's 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', the Congress is hopeful of a strong comeback.
Two of the parties at the meeting - the RJD and CPI(ML) Liberation had failed to win a single seat in the last Lok Sabha polls though both performed well in the Bihar assembly polls held a year later. With their alliance firmly intact, they hope to do well in the parliamentary elections too.
Among the other parties, only Trinamool Congress, DMK and JD(U) had secured double digit tallies. The Shiv Sena had won 18 seats but it remains unclear how many of the MPs remain with the faction headed by Uddhav Thackeray, who has joined opposition unity chorus.
Other parties represented at the meeting are SP, AAP, NCP, CPI and CPI(M) besides Jammu and Kashmir-based People's Democratic Party and National Conference.