In a major step towards forging an anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) front, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar and other prominent opposition leaders on Sunday (25 September) called for a new alliance that includes the Congress for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, stressing that a bipolar contest will ensure the BJP's defeat.
The Fatehabad rally was organised by Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) to mark the 109th anniversary of its founder Devi Lal. It turned into a show of strength for regional parties in the run up to the 2024 general elections.
"If all non-BJP parties unite, which must include our friends from Congress, then we can get rid of those working to destroy the country," Kumar said during his address.
The same sentiment was echoed by other leaders including NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Shiv Sena's Arvind Sawant and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav.
Hitting back, BJP president J P Nadda, who was in Kerala, said the only thing common to these opposition parties is “dynastic politics and corruption”.
At the rally, Nitish Kumar, whose JD(U) snapped ties with the BJP last month, said there is 'no question of a Third Front'' and there should be one 'main front' to trounce the BJP in the 2024 elections.
Even INLD president O P Chautala said that “they will talk to all parties including Congress to form a united front of opposition parties".
Chautala and Shiromani Akali Dal's Sukhbir Singh Badal, both with a long history of fighting the Congress, were on the stage with other senior leaders.
Though no one from the Congress attended the rally, Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at her residence in the national capital after the public meeting.
However, regional bigwigs like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who have shown an inclination towards forming a non-Congress alliance to take on the BJP in the past, stayed away from the rally, besides Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.
While leaving the rally venue, Kumar told reporters he was not a contender for the prime minister's post.
(With inputs from PTI)
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