Bihar Chief Mnister Nitish Kumar — the self-appointed interlocuter of the opposition — met Sonia Gandhi in Delhi today with Bihar ally Lalu Yadav in a strong message of the importance of the Congress in any opposition front against the BJP. Mr Yadav, the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, spelled it out after the meeting. “Without the Congress, there is no alliance and they have been in the forefront of fighting the BJP,” he told reporters.
Mrs Gandhi, the interim Congress chief who was also the chairperson of the UPA, has apparently sent a positive vibe. But there was a rider. The opposition unity project can be taken forward after the internal elections of the Congress, she has said.
“We met Sonia Gandhi and talked about opposition unity to defeat the BJP in 2024. She said we will meet with us again after the Congress presidential polls,” Mr Yadav had added. The two leaders, she also suggested, must meet the new Congress president and decide.
The internal election of the party is due on October 17 in which Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is seen as the frontrunner for the president’s post.
During his last visit to Delhi, Mr Kumar met with most key opposition leaders – Rahul Gandhi being the first on his list.
But a meeting with Sonia Gandhi was not possible since she was abroad. This time, Mrs Gandhi’s son, Rahul Gandhi, could not attend the meeting. Mr Gandhi is in Kerala, leading the Bharat Jodo Yatra — the big public outreach programme of the Congress ahead of the 2024 election.
While today’s meeting was expected to be a courtesy visit, sources had indicated that there is also a chance of some serious subjects being canvassed, including taking the Grand Alliance to a national level.
The possibility is being explored by the leaders in Bihar, especially with Mr Kumar working on knitting the opposition into a cohesive front against the BJP ahead of the 2024 national election.
It was decided that the “alliance will continue”, sources said today.