Former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy on Monday, 5 September, played host to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The meeting, at former prime minister HD Devegowda’s residence in New Delhi, came as a surprise to even JD(S) leaders in Karnataka.
Kumaraswamy, leader of the Janata Dal (Secular) legislature party in Karnataka, held talks with Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar, calling for a reunion of the Janata Parivar.
The meeting of the two leaders from two offshoots of the erstwhile Janata Party came barely a month after Devegowda called for alternative leadership in the country.
Devegowda’s statement was against the backdrop of Nitish Kumar breaking off his alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bihar and aligning with the Rastriya Janata Dal (RJD) to form the government.
United Janata Parivar?
Taking Devegowda’s call forward, Kumaraswamy on Monday called on other offshoots of the Janata Party to reunite.
“Following the upheaval in Bihar politics, the time is ripe to discuss the unification of the Janata Parivar parties. The Janata Party of Jayaprakash Narayan should come together again. The country needs a strong Opposition,” Kumaraswamy told reporters after the meeting.
Sources close to Kumaraswamy told South First that discussions on the BJP’s infamous Operation Lotus — the term used by Opposition parties to describe the saffron party’s alleged attempt to lure legislators from opponents — featured prominently in the meeting.
“Given his recent experience with the BJP, Nitish Kumar spoke about identifying and countering Operation Lotus. The two leaders spoke about getting secular forces together to form a strong Opposition that can take on the two national parties — the Congress and the BJP,” a close aide of Kumaraswamy told South First regarding what was discussed in the meeting.
KCR last week, Kumaraswamy this week
Barely a week ago, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao visited Bihar and held talks with Nitish Kumar. The two leaders even addressed a joint press conference. sparking a debate on whether they were vying to be the Opposition’s prime-ministerial candidates.
On Monday, Nitish Kumar met Kumaraswamy, adding fuel to the “Third Front” fire.
The fact that KCR met Devegowda and Kumaraswamy in May is to be noted in this context.
“Both parties are open to an alliance in the upcoming elections in Karnataka,” the source cited above added.
The JD(U)’s tallest leader in Karnataka is Mahima J Patel, son of former Karnataka Chief Minister and Janata Dal stalwart JH Patel.
“When the JD(S)-Congress coalition government came to power in Karnataka in 2018, leaders of 23 states — including chief ministers — graced the occasion. We had hoped for it to turn into a massive powerhouse of Opposition parties, but that did not materialise,” Kumaraswamy said after his meeting with Nitish Kumar.
While Devegowda couldn’t travel to New Delhi for the meeting owing to health issues, he is being credited as the mastermind in the organising of the meeting.
Kumaraswamy’s meeting with Nitish Kumar came on the day Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief MK Stalin played host to Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal in Tamil Nadu.
The DMK government in Tamil Nadu had invited Kejriwal to inaugurate “model schools” on Monday, on the occasion of Teachers Day.