JD(U) chief to not attend Bharat Jodo Yatra's conclusion, asks Cong to take steps to unite Opposition
Chief Minister Kumar, a strong votary of opposition unity that could take on the BJP in Lok Sabha polls next year, has made it clear he was not in favour of a third front and also not averse to Congress projecting Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate.
Janata Dal (United) president Lalan Singh on Thursday expressed his inability to attend the concluding event of the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra in Srinagar on January 30 and asked the Congress to take appropriate steps to unite the opposition.
In a letter to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Singh cited his scheduled engagement for a political programme in poll-bound Nagaland to skip the Yatra's conclusion.
Though the Congress has invited heads of several non-BJP parties to attend the event to finish the mega exercise aimed at rejuvenating its organisation in the run up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, it remains to be seen how many of them turn up.
Some regional party chiefs may send their representatives at a time when the Opposition is itself divided over what shape any such alliance against the BJP should take and who should be the spearhead.
Singh said, ''My party sincerely feels that the need of the hour is an unified opposition and expects that the Indian National Congress takes appropriate steps in this direction''. The JD(U) has in the past highlighted its preeminent leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as prime ministerial candidate, without officially projecting him as its choice for the face of the Opposition.
Singh, however, shared Kharge's sentiments against the BJP, saying there are ''no two opinions that there is a decline in democratic values in the country and that the Constitutional institutions that are supposed to ensure checks and balances on unrestrained executive power are being systematically destroyed''.
The pace at which the country is fast transforming itself from an ''electoral democracy to an electoral autocracy'' is frightening, Singh said.
He termed the concluding event of the yatra as ''historic'' and wished it success.
''I, on behalf of my party, the party's supreme leader, Mr Nitish Kumar, Hon'ble Chief Minister of Bihar and crores of members of the party wish the event every success,'' said the JD(U) president.
''The Bharat Jodo Yatra has also given an opportunity to study, experience and sense the mood and anxieties of the people first hand, which I am sure will go a long way in helping us formulate joint strategies in the run up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections,'' he said.
The march started from Kanyakumari on September 7 and entered Jammu and Kashmir via Punjab on Thursday last.
The marathon march will culminate with Gandhi unfurling the national flag at the party headquarters in Srinagar and addressing a grand rally at the Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium on January 30. The JD(U) has the Congress as its alliance partner in Bihar. Chief Minister Kumar, a strong votary of opposition unity that could take on the BJP in Lok Sabha polls next year, has made it clear he was not in favour of a ''third front'' and also not averse to Congress projecting Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate.
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