The president of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, began to meet with leaders of different parties to establish a united front against the NDA led by the BJP before the general elections of 2019. This follows Samajwadi Party (SP), backed by his archrival BSP , snatching from BJP two of Lok Sabha’s most prestigious seats: Gorakhpur and Phulpur, on Wednesday’s results.
The Congress also dismissed Telangana CM and the head of the TRS, K Chandrashekhar Rao, for the idea of a third front. Rahul met with PCN chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday, the day that Lalu Yadav’s RJD also retained Araria and Jehanabad in Bihar, while the JD-U alliance partner, BJP, clung to Bhabua. Rahul could meet West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee soon.
Banerjee is expected to attend a joint opposition meeting organized by Pawar on March 28, the sources said.
On Tuesday, UPA president Sonia Gandhi hosted a dinner for opposition leaders. They attended leaders of 20 parties.
Congress is likely to make every effort to project Rahul as a credible rival to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019.
The candidates for Congress lost security deposits in both Gorakhpur and Phulpur, but party leaders said they were eager to take advantage of the “anger” against the government.
They said that the regional satraps can not be a challenge for India for Modi.
The leader of the Congress, S Jaipal Reddy, described the third front proposed by Rao as a mere “trick” that has no answer. He even ridiculed Rao for making false claims that Banerjee had called him for the third frontal problem. Reddy, however, praised the SP-BSP combination. “We will unite and fight against the NDA,” he said.
Meanwhile, the supreme BSP, Mayawati, urged people not to let the BJP return to power again at the Center. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav indicated that his party was interested in burying the ax with BSP.
Wednesday’s results were massive setbacks for the BJP as the UP prime minister, Yogi Adityanath, had occupied Gorakhpur for five terms and vacated the seat to head the state government after the BJP sweep in the Assembly elections of the year past.
His now deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya held Phulpur, a seat once represented by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, that the BJP first won in 2014 when Narendra Modi came to power at the Center.
The rare link between the SP of Akhilesh Yadav and the BSP of Mayawati is seen as a test case for a larger opposition grouping before the 2019 general election.
The results of Bihar were seen as a referendum on the head of JD-U and the decision of the CM’s last year Nitish Kumar to leave the RJD and the Lalu Yadav Congress to join with BJP.