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Anti-BJP rally in Patna: SP, BSP to join Lalu Prasad in show of strength

LiveMint logoLiveMint 01-06-2017 Meenal Thakur

New Delhi: The first glimpse of a united anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) front will be seen at a joint rally addressed by the leaders of key national and regional opposition parties in Patna on 27 August. 

Samajwadi Party’s (SP) national president Akhilesh Yadav became the latest politician to confirm his and arch rival Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati’s presence at the “BJP hatao, desh bachao” (remove BJP, save the country), which was announced by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav earlier in May. 

“I will be present at Lalu Prasadji’s Bihar rally on 27 August and Mayawati will also be there. If there is any announcement (regarding future alliance) it will be made there,” said the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, when asked about the possibility of SP and BSP coming together. Though Mayawati has not said anything about her presence at the rally, the BSP chief has repeatedly indicated that she will be a part of any anti-BJP front formed in the country. 

The coming together of the opposition parties of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Lok Sabha election in 2019 is significant as these two states together make up for 120 of the 545 parliamentary seats. However, the BJP had bagged 93—22 out of the 40 seats in Bihar and 71 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh—of these seats on its own in the 2014 general election. 

More recently, the BJP created history by coming back to power in Uttar Pradesh after 15 years by winning 325 of the 403 assembly seats along with its allies. Though the BJP was trumped by the Grand Alliance in the 2015 Bihar election, the party along with its allies won 58 of 243 assembly seats in the state. 

While the Congress and Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal (United) have also been invited for the rally, both are yet to take a final call on whether they will attend it. 

A Bihar-style anti-BJP grand alliance could pose a serious challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP in the general election and the mega rally will be seen as a show of strength of a united opposition. 

Meanwhile, efforts are on by the Congress party to bring together like-minded opposition parties to field a joint candidate for the upcoming presidential election. Congress president Sonia Gandhi hosted a luncheon meeting on 26 May, the day the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) completed three years in office. The meeting was attended by leaders of 17 key opposition parties. Rivals SP and BSP were also present at the meeting. 

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