AAP, however, maintained that Congress has to stand by Arvind Kejriwal on the central ordinance on control of administrative services in the national capital.
The four-hour conclave at Bihar CM Nitish Kumar‘s 1, Anne Marg residence decided to reconvene at Shimla in Congress-governed Himachal Pradesh on July 10 or 12 to flesh out their strategy to field a common candidate against each of the BJP nominees in the maximum possible LS seats out of the 543 at stake.Sort out differences in Delhi later, Mamata tells Congress, AAP
At the meetin, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah suggested that the anti-BJP bloc should look to have common candidates in at least 450 seats, sources said. The consensus was to prevent any split in the antiBJP vote. Kejriwal and his delegation to Patna, including Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann, and RS members Sanjay Singh and Raghav Chadha, skipped the joint presser that followed the meeting.
Tamil Nadu CM and DMK leader M K Stalin was absent, too. Sources said that while brainstorming the opposition’s joint strategy for 2024 at Nitish’s residence, Kejriwal insisted that Congress make an announcement at the end of the meeting that it would support AAP on the ordinance. Neither Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge nor Rahul Gandhi gave any clearcut assurance to AAP, sources said.
West Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, one of those to have committed her support to Kejriwal, requested leaders of AAP and Congress to sort out their differences on the Delhi ordinance “over tea and biscuits” at a later date. She was quoted as saying that the Patna conclave was not the ideal forum for any such discussion. At the joint press briefing, Nitish Kumar said the group would reconvene “soon” to give final shape to the plan of taking on BJP together. “We had a good meeting, and several leaders expressed their views freely. We have decided to work together and contest the Lok Sabha elections as a united bloc.”
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Nitish said each of the prospective constituents of the alliance was working “in national interest” while BJP was allegedly busy trying to change India’s history. Rahul said “flexibility was the key and that all members of the group would “work to protect our ideology”. Mamata declared that the choice of venue for the first meeting was significant as “whatever starts from Patna takes the shape of a public movement”.
“If this dictatorial government (NDA) returns this time, there will be no elections in future,” she warned. “We are all united in our fight against BJP.” NCP chief Sharad Pawar invoked Jayaprakash Narayan’s “JP Movement” as the inspiration behind parties getting together to challenge BJP. “Our united front will get the blessings of the public,” he said. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said “bada manch hone ke liye bada dil hona chahiye (You need a big heart to create a big platform)”.