Tejashwi Yadav: Congress still largest Opposition party; Nitish, Lalu to meet Sonia

UNLIKE MANY regional parties which have been pointing at the Congress’s retreating footprint across states, RJD leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav said on Sunday that it is still the “largest party” in the Opposition bloc, and others must think “practically” on its relevance.

In an interview to The Indian Express, Yadav said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad would meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi after she returns from abroad, as part of the ongoing efforts to stitch unity among the Opposition parties to take on the BJP in the 2024 general elections.

Defeating the BJP should be the sole “personal ambition” for Opposition leaders, he said.

“A good beginning has been made. Bihar has provided a good template and it should be replicated elsewhere. Nitishji has met many leaders, Laluji has also spoke, I also keep meeting. Once Soniaji is back, Nitishji and Laluji will meet her to discuss the way ahead. A dialogue has finally begun on the next Lok Sabha polls, which was not the case before the developments in Bihar,” he said.

Last month, Nitish ended the JD(U)’s alliance with the BJP, and joined hands with the RJD, Congress and Left parties to form a new coalition government in Bihar. This, Yadav said, has generated “hope” in the Opposition ranks and set off a churn which will be felt nationwide in the days ahead.

“It will definitely make a difference. Their (BJP) strength has already come down after the JD(U)’s departure. Arithmetically, the combined vote share of Congress, RJD, JD(U), Left parties is beyond 50 per cent. The BJP is not going to repeat its performance of winning 39 of 40 seats in Bihar. The Congress had won zero seats in Rajasthan, that is not going to happen again. If we join hands and fight with a strategy, then the BJP will definitely stop short of the halfway mark,” Yadav said.

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Saying that the Congress cannot be kept out of the calculations, he said, “We cannot wish away the fact that their numbers are higher than us in Parliament. Eventually, numbers will be the deciding factor, not statements. Others (parties) are mostly limited to their own states. So people will have to think practically and understand the situation”.

That the BJP is feeling the heat after the change in Bihar is also getting reflected in its public posturings, Yadav said. “It has made the BJP insecure. To boost their cadre morale, they have now started talking about targeting 350 seats. They wanted to decimate socialist politics. BJP chief JP Nadda openly called for the end of regional parties. They wanted to break the JD(U). The message of what we have done has travelled across the country. It has generated hope in the Opposition ranks,” Yadav said.

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