Following the upheaval in Bihar, Akhilesh Yadav is reaching out to opposition leaders to hold on to the dream of a united opposition for 2019.

Stunned by the upheaval in neighbouring Bihar, Akhilesh Yadav is scrambling to hold on to the nascent efforts that were being made to forge opposition unity. The former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh will soon have a detailed conversation with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav to devise a strategy for opposition parties to remain united after JD(U)’s surprise exit from the grand alliance on Wednesday.

Akhilesh also plans to visit the national capital next week for a meeting with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to discuss the future course of action for the oppositon. Following the end of the “grand alliance” in Bihar, the Samajwadi Party (SP) president also spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, requesting her to convene a meeting of the opposition camp.

A source in the SP told ThePrint that the party is currently seeking to bring the scattered opposition together, and the leadership question is not on the party’s mind. “The question of leadership is not on our minds. First, the parties should come together as a unit, and rest of the things will be resolved later,” said the source.

“I have posted my thoughts on Twitter, and have nothing to add to this at the moment,” Akhilesh said when reached by ThePrint.

As the drama in Bihar unfolded on Thursday, Akhilesh took to Twitter to take a jibe at Nitish Kumar, who took oath as chief minister of the state within 18 hours of submitting his resignation. Highlighting the irony of Nitish Kumar forging an alliance with the hitherto estranged BJP, Akhilesh tweeted, “Na na karke pyar tum hi se kar baithe, karna tha inkar par ikrar tum hi se kar baithe. Bihar Today”.

Opposition parties have been in talks to try and forge a united front to counter the BJP since the latter swept assembly elections in UP earlier this year. A proposal for a joint opposition candidate from Phulpur Lok Sabha seat after Keshav Prasad Maurya became the deputy chief minister in Uttar Pradesh was also in the works.

After the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati resigned from Rajya Sabha last week, her name started doing the rounds as the opposition’s possible joint candidate from Phulpur. While sources in the SP say that no such proposal has come to them yet, the party remains hopeful of forging an alliance with the BSP in Uttar Pradesh, especially after Mayawati lambasted the JD(U) chief for betraying the people of Bihar, who had who voted for an anti-BJP alliance.

Lalu Prasad Yadav, on his part, has been consistently making efforts to bring the SP and BSP together before the 2019 general elections. On the foundation day of his party, while speaking to reporters in Patna, Lalu had said, “All secular parties, including Mayawati and Akhilesh should come together to defeat the BJP. If that happens BJP’s game is over.” The RJD chief also plans to hold an opposition rally in Patna in August and is inviting leaders from across opposition parties.

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  1. It would be more productive if the SP and the BSP have a genuine meeting of hearts and confine their focus to Uttar Pradesh, not dissipate their energies pursuing the chimera of a national front. As it is, transfer of votes between the supporters of the two parties is not seamless. If the Congress, with a conversion rate of 7%, wishes to join the coalition, it should be as a very minor partner, as in Bihar. A lot will also depend on how well the Yogi administration performs in the next two years.


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