What Oppn wants? Bihar-model grand alliance in UP

Demands for a Bihar-model grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh with arch rivals Samajwadi Party and BSP coming together to tackle BJP resonated at an Opposition meeting here on Friday.

At the first meeting called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to forge unity among opposition, leaders like RJD president Lalu Prasad and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee harped on the unity theme among UP parties as chiefs of SP and BSP – Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati sat across the table.

Sources said BSP chief Mayawati set the tone at the meeting called to strategise on Presidential polls and a united fight against BJP, saying she was “all for opposition unity”. Canards are being spreading that she would not join the opposition, she said.

“I am with you. I am not outside (the opposition camp),” a senior leader, who attended the meeting, quoted Mayawati as saying. She also referred to the plight of farmers and spread of communalist forces in the country.

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While the SP chief did not speak, sources said, senior party leader Ramgopal Yadav endorsed the concerns raised by Mayawati and said all secular parties should come together.

SP-Congress alliance and BSP were decimated in the recent UP polls with opposition viewing that if there was a Bihar-model alliance, in which JD(U)-RJD-Congress combine trounced BJP, they could have trounced the saffron party.

Sources said, Prasad was very vocal that SP and BSP should come together. “If SP, BSP and Congress come together in UP, BJP will be decimated in UP,” Prasad was quoted as saying.

Banerjee also echoed Prasad and said that BJP was using investigating agencies to trouble her party, Prasad and Mayawati.

Both the UP parties did not object to remarks for adoption of Bihar-model in their state. Sources said Mayawati’s presence itself showed her seriousness about opposition unity.

The meeting also saw ruling and opposition parties from Kerala and West Bengal – CPI(M)-led Left Front, Congress and Trinamool — sitting across the table.

Sources said CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury wanted the ideological battle against RSS-BJP to continue while his CPI counterpart S Sudhakar Reddy wanted a concerted campaign on price rise.

At the meeting, several other issues like Kashmir, plight of farmers, Dalits and adivasis were also raised.

While Banerjee also mentioned demonetisation during her intervention, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who demanded a sub-committee to be set up to coordinate efforts on Presidential polls, raised the issue of farmers’ plight. SP’s Yadav also echoed Pawar’s concerns.

JMM leader Hemant Soren highlighted the issues faced by adivasis and wanted the opposition parties to make it one of the important planks of the campaign.

Senior National Conference leader Omar Abdullah demanded frequent meetings of the opposition leaders. Referring to the Kashmir issue, he said the government was scared of the Hurriyat Conference.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on May 27, 2017)

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