The Congress is a national party with a pan-India presence and it is quite natural that it should be the fulcrum of any national coalition against the BJP-led NDA, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said on Sunday. In an interview with PTI, he also said that the Congress is in a direct fight with the BJP on more than 200 Lok Sabha seats and should focus on them while allowing regional parties to be in the driver’s seat in the other constituencies.
Asked about the meeting of Opposition leaders and several civil society members at Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Shared Pawar’s house here last week, the RJD leader said he was not aware what transpired in the meeting. However, the former Bihar deputy chief minister asserted that definitely all like-minded parties should come together with a common minimum programme to defeat “this most oppressive, divisive, authoritarian and fascist government". “Our leader Lalu (Yadav) Ji had forewarned in the run up to 2014 election- ‘Ye chunaw tay karega ki desh tootega ya bachega (this election will decide whether the country will remain or be divided)’, and I think most of the parties and citizens of our country have realised this today like never before," Yadav said. On the Congress not having a presence at the meeting and whether the grand old party should be part of a national alliance to take on the BJP, he said the Congress is a national party with a pan-India presence and quite naturally it “should be the fulcrum of any national coalition against the BJP-led NDA".
The Congress is in direct fight with BJP on more than 200 seats, not the regional parties, Yadav said. “From past experiences, I think the Congress must focus on those seats wherein it is in direct fight with the BJP and on remaining seats with an open heart and mind it should let regional parties be in the driving seat in their respective strongholds to root out the BJP," he argued.
His remarks assume significance as they come just days after Pawar said the Congress will need to be taken along if any alternative alliance is to be formed. Significantly, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Saturday had also said that work is on to bring all opposition parties together at the national level, and this alliance will be incomplete without the Congress. He had said that the Congress will play an important role in the alliance that aims to provide a strong alternative to the present dispensation.
NCP chief Pawar on Friday had claimed that formation of any national alliance was not the topic of discussion at the meeting of eight opposition parties hosted by him, but also said that if any such coalition emerges, its leadership will have to be “collective". He had told reporters that the aim of the meeting at his Delhi residence last Tuesday was to discuss how they can support the ongoing farmers’ agitation. Speculation was rife that the agenda of the meeting, where no Congress leader was present, was to discuss a possible alliance which could be an alternative to the BJP.
Asked what would be the form of any future alliance against the BJP and what would be the Congress’s place in it, Pawar had said, “There was no discussion on this, however, in my view the Congress will be needed to be taken along if any alternative alliance is to be formed." .