India

For Struggling Congress, A Booster Shot From Tejashwi Yadav

For Struggling Congress, A Booster Shot From Tejashwi Yadav

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said time is running out and the efforts need to start now.

New Delhi:

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav today said any opposition front for the 2024 election without the Congress would be "unimaginable" as the party has a direct clash with the BJP in some 200 of 543 parliamentary seats across the country.

The Congress had to be the base of any opposition grouping to take on the ruling BJP, Tejashwi Yadav told in an exclusive interview.

"Any opposition unity effort can happen only if the Congress is part of it. The Congress has to be the base. There are 200 seats where the Congress is in a direct fight with the BJP," said the Bihar leader of opposition.

"But wherever regional parties are strong, they need to be in the driving seat," he added.

Time is running out and the efforts to consolidate anti-BJP forces need to start now, the RJD leader said.

"We should start preps now. We can't imagine any front without the Congress. As for leadership, that is something we have to sit and decide together. Perhaps sacrifices need to be made for the sake of the country, for the greater good," said Tejashwi Yadav, apparently implying that the Congress needs to compromise.

On who would lead the opposition front, if not the Congress, Mr Yadav replied: "We can only know when everyone sits together. It is the people who choose their leader. We have to see who enjoys more support..."

The RJD leader's comments on the Congress contrast sharply with the dim view that his party men took after the Bihar election, in which the Tejashwi Yadav-led opposition alliance was narrowly defeated  by Nitish Kumar-BJP's NDA. Though the RJD emerged as number one, the Congress's dismal performance was seen to have dragged down the opposition's tally.

In recent weeks, other Congress allies have made similar statements.

NCP's Sharad Pawar had said that there could be no alternative alliance without the Congress.

Today, Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut echoed the view even though a Congress leader's talk about fighting the next Maharashtra election solo has upset his party as well as the NCP.

"Without the Congress no opposition front will succeed. Today it may be weakened, but it is still the main opposition party of the country. We have to take them along. There is no joy in a 3rd front or a 4th front or a 5th front. We have to strengthen the existing front," said the Sena Rajya Sabha member.

"It is only when there is talk about who will lead the front that the trouble arises. A new front is no alternative. We have to strengthen the UPA."

Mr Raut said leaders like (Bengal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee and NCP chief Sharad Pawar must speak to the Congress leadership.

"Such a front can't come to power immediately. But at least there will be a strong, united opposition front and the government will have to acknowledge that."