Nitish Kumar meets Kejriwal in Delhi, supports AAP govt in tussle with Centre
Nitish Kumar, who has been holding parleys with Opposition leaders ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, straightaway headed for New Delhi after attending Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah’s swearing-in ceremony in Bengaluru on Saturday
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar met his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal in the national Capital on Sunday and said the Centre’s ordinance to reverse the Supreme Court order to vest power in the elected government in Delhi underlines the need for Opposition unity in the country.
The Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader, who has been holding parleys with Opposition leaders ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, straightaway headed for New Delhi after attending Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah’s swearing-in ceremony in Bengaluru on Saturday. His meeting with Kejriwal assumed significance as the latter was not invited by the Congress to Karnataka, where it achieved a decisive victory to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. Kumar is also likely to meet other Opposition leaders in the next couple of days to set the stage for a larger Opposition meet in Bihar.
“What is happening is strange and it underlines the need for Opposition unity to put a check on such unconstitutional measures. All are one on this. We support the Delhi CM. We are also planning a larger Opposition meet so that a united stand could be taken against such undemocratic steps,” Kumar told reporters in Delhi, referring to the Centre’s ordinance.
Earlier on Saturday, Kumar’s deputy Tejashwi Prasad Yadav was also present in the Karnataka event along with Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren and CMs of Congress-ruled states Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan) and Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu (Himachal Pradesh), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI general secretary D Raja and a host of other leaders.
While Kejriwal was not invited, another notable absence from the Opposition was West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee.
Kumar said, “What I am striving for has started from Karnataka. All coming together will be in the nation’s interest and I am trying for that.”
A senior JD-U leader, who did not want to be named, said, “Last month also, Kumar had met Kejriwal during his Delhi visit and the second meeting soon after Karnataka event indicates how much Kumar is striving to achieve the larger goal, which holds the key for 2024. He has categorically stated many times that his attempts are not for him, but for saving the country and the democracy. Everyone from the Opposition will be needed and Nitish Kumar is doing just that.”
The leader quoted above said that Kumar has been diligently working on the Opposition unity since the day he severed ties with the BJP to get back into the RJD-led Grand Alliance and started negotiations with different political parties.
Earlier, Kumar had also met Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge, former Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav, Shiv Sena (Udhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Uddhav Thackeray and Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja as part of his outreach. He had also gone to West Bengal and Odisha to meet his counterparts Mamata Bannerjee and Naveen Patnaik.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee had invoked the anti-Emergency movement of 1970s led by socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan during her meeting with Kumar and deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav in Kolkata. She had also asked her Bihar counterpart to host a meeting of all Opposition parties in his home state to give shape to a united Opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government. Soon after his return from West Bengal, Kumar said it would be worked out after the Karnataka polls.
“The buoyancy of Karnataka will certainly help the cause of Opposition unity and Nitish Kumar is working on it. Congress is high on confidence at this stage and Nitish Kumar knows it. The date for Opposition meet will be finalised only after all the leaders agree. It is also a fact that some parties may have differences with others in their areas of strength and it will require a leader like Kumar to bridge the gaps. After all, the AAP has grown in Delhi and Punjab at the cost of the Congress and Mamata Banerjee has benefited in West Bengal due to the decline of the Left and the Congress. But when larger issues confront, smaller issues and individual aspirations will have to take a backstage at least for some time,” said social analyst and former director of AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies, DM Diwakar.