Despite Nitish Kumar, Opposition to Contest Presidential Polls
THE CITIZEN BUREAU
NEW DELHI:The fervour in the Janata Dal (U) in Delhi at least has subsided. After rushing around trying to get the various political constituents together for a united Opposition candidate for the Presidential polls, KC Tyagi and Sharad Yadav have been told clearly by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at the party meeting that the old socialists will have to back the BJP candidate. Why? As there is no way he will oppose the Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind who has been cooperating with his government on all issues.
Kumar has taken his pick, and once again it is Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Yadav ---despite the numerous cases being filed and investigated against him by the central agencies---who remains standing alone in Bihar. Lalu Yadav enjoys the distinction of keeping a long distance from the BJP through his political career, while Nitish Kumar along with George Fernandes are still remembered as the architects of the first Opposition cooperation with the BJP to bring the Janata Dal to power.
The Opposition, thus, was in some disarray although it was never really looking to win the election given the positions being taken by the AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal, and the Telengana Rashtriya Samiti. A decision has now been taken to contest and the candidate will be announced this evening when the regional parties meet with the Congress. But was keen on giving what its leaders termed an “ideological” fight.
Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar was a choice, but remain reluctant as he is not keen to contest and lose. He had advocated instead a tribal candidate following the theory that the Dalit legislators do not cut across party lines to vote in a Presidential election, whereas the Adivasi legislators would have no such compunctions and work together as an effective block.
The Congress party as always left matters too late, according to sources. And while in the drivers seat being the largest single party in Parliament, was clealry unable to drive and steer the confabulations through obstances; A more aggressive and determined reach out by the Congress to all the regional leaders would have helped tremendously in ironing out differences, sources said, so that even if Nitish Kumar had left others would have joined in.
Now it is the NDA that is united after some initial signs of differences, with at least three additional major parties--JD(U), AIADMK, BJD--- having already declared their support for Kovind. The Opposition block will now consist of Congress, Left, Samajwadi party, Trinamool Congress (probably), Bahujan Samaj Party (possibly), DMK. If former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is the candidate as it appears more so after her meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, it is unlikely that she will be able to pitch an ideological counter, as she is a reticent leader and not one to speak out on issues.
The Left while active, has been following the Congress lead. It remains to be seen, given the poor level of consultations, whether the parties mentioned above come enthusiastically on board or leave the ‘contest’ largely to the Congress, RJD and the Left to manouvere. Interestingly the SP is coming out of the Mulayam Singh hold, with Akhilesh Yadav slowing but steadily taking control of the organisation. He has been reticent on issues, but sources insist, this is because his first priority remains the party organisation from where he is weeding out the pro-Mulayam/Shivpal Yadav elements. And hence might counter his father in supporting the Opposition candidate for President.