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Date and place of Oppn meet to be decided in a couple of days

Bihar CM Nitish meets Kharge, Rahul

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NEW DELHI, May 22 (PTI): Bihar chief minister and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar met Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and former chief Rahul Gandhi here on Monday after which the leaders announced that a “vast majority” of non-BJP parties will meet to give a concrete shape to Opposition unity to take on the BJP in the 2024 general elections.

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While Kumar had last month hinted that an opposition meeting to strengthen unity could take place in Patna, there seems to be some re-think on the place with the leaders on Monday stating that a decision on it would be taken in a day or two.

Giving momentum to opposition unity efforts, Kumar, who met Kharge and Gandhi at the AICC chief’s 10 Rajaji Marg, held nearly an hour-long “extensive” deliberations over the upcoming brainstorming by top Opposition bigwigs to chalk out a joint strategy for 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

“The country will be united now. The strengthening of democracy is our message. Rahul Gandhi and I discussed the current political situation with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today and took forward the process of giving a new direction to the country,” Kharge tweeted after the meeting.

Kumar was accompanied by his Janata Dal (United) president Lalan Singh and Bihar minister Sanjay Jha during the meeting. Congress general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal was also present at the meeting.

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Kumar’s deputy Tejashwi Yadav was also expected to be present during the meeting but could not attend as he was unwell, sources said.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Venugopal said the venue and date of the expected meeting will be announced in a day or two.

“We had a detailed discussion about the Opposition parties’ meeting. We will decide the date and place of the meeting within one or two days. This is what we decided today,” he said.

Asked how many parties are expected to attend, Venugopal said, “a vast majority of Opposition parties will attend.”

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JD(U) chief Lalan Singh said an elaborate discussion was held on the consensus that had been forged earlier on Opposition unity.

“The date and place of the meeting for Opposition unity will be decided in a day or two and you will be informed,” he said.

This is the second such meeting between Kumar with Kharge and Gandhi in the last one and a half months. After the last month’s meeting, the Bihar chief minister had said they will make all efforts to unite more and more parties in the country against the BJP

Last month, Kumar had also met leaders of a host of regional parties in his bid to bring them together on one platform with the Congress to take on the BJP in the polls next year.

The JD(U) leaders had met AAP convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday at his residence here and extended “complete support” to him in the ongoing face-off with the Centre over the control of administrative services.

Significantly, Bihar chief minister Kumar, deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah attended the swearing-in ceremony of Siddaramaiah as the Karnataka chief minister on Saturday, in a show of opposition unity.

Some regional leaders, including Kejriwal and Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, were not invited to the ceremony. Kumar, though, has been trying to bring them on board as well.

The JD(U) has been keen on holding the meeting in Patna while sources in the Congress had earlier indicated that Kharge would be taking the lead and meeting top leaders of various Opposition parties.

The opposition has plans to put forward one common candidate to defeat the BJP to upstage them from power at the Centre, but some have expressed reservations over such a proposal as some parties have aspirations to contest the maximum number of seats.

The Congress also is not inclined to restrict itself to around 200 seats and wants to contest more seats, claiming that it is a national player unlike many regional outfits and has a presence across the country.

It has also contended that it is the only party that can directly take on the BJP due to its national footprint. The Congress’ contention has got a boost after the Karnataka win where it emphatically beat BJP in a direct contest.

The Janata Dal (U), Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress are in a coalition government in Bihar and the three parties have been in talks to bring other opposition parties together on a common platform in their fight against the BJP.

Kharge had earlier spoken to several opposition leaders including M K Stalin and Uddhav Thackeray, in an attempt to forge unity among like-minded parties to take on the BJP.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttp://www.thehillstimes.in
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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