Can’t carry Modi baggage, says JD(U); talks of Third Front gather steam

JDU Nitish Kumar_0.jpg

New Delhi: The BJP and JD(U) are heading closer to a parting of ways, even as parleys among non-Congress, non-BJP parties over possible political alliances gathered momentum on Friday.
With reports indicating the JD(U) was preparing to break ties with the NDA, the BJP tried to convince its key ally to stay with the NDA. Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj tweeted: “Only a united Opposition can defeat the Congress. Whenever Opposition got united, Congress was defeated... Therefore, NDA’s unity is a historical necessity. We must do everything to keep the NDA united.”
But with matters coming to a head, the JD(U) called a meeting of its legislators in Patna on Sunday to take a call on its 17-year-old alliance with the BJP. 
Back-channel talks to save the alliance are on. But in a sign of the party’s annoya­nce with the BJP’s failure to reassure the JD(U) that Guj­arat chief minister Nar­e­ndra Modi 'will not be its PM candidate', Bihar chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar said: “On the one hand, some are giving sugg­e­s­tions that it is such an old alliance that it should conti­n­ue. On the other hand, the conditions are such that there are problems.” 
He took a poetic dig at BJP saying "Dua deten hain jeene ki, dawa deten hain marne ki (While you pray for me to survive, you offer me the medicine of death)".

JD(U) ‘serious’ on Federal Front

DC/Anand S.T. Das
Patna: The ‘Federal Front’ idea the JD(U) is set to champion as a non-BJP, non-Congress alternative nationwide is a serious one based on solid economic and political foundations that the people will connect with, said senior JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwary on Friday.
“Even though the Federal Front idea at present is in an embryonic stage and nothing much can be told about its shape and strategy, it is a serious political exercise spearheaded by chief minister Nitish Kumar,” said Tiwary, JD(U) national spokesman and Rajya Sabha member, in an exclusive interview with this newspaper. 
He refuted speculation that the idea of the third alternative is merely another bout of the JD(U)'s assertion of its secular credentials and principles before its 18-year-old ally BJP following the elevation of Narendra Modi as the BJP's national election campaign committee chief.
Kumar had on Wednesday spoken with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on the possibilities for a 'Federal Front'. Tiwary, a senior socialist leader considered close to Kumar and known for his outspoken anti-Modi views, said former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP had also shown 'deep interest' in the Federal Front idea.
"The deep interest shown by all these regional leaders of high sanding is another indication of the fact that talks about a Federal Front are neither baseless nor non-serious. But at this moment, the JD(U)'s ties with the BJP are intact," he said. "Our ties remain intact till we make any further announcement about it," he added.


Left’s parleys 
 leader Sitaram Yech­ury met JD(U) president Sharad Yadav at his residence in an apparent attempt to wean the party away from its rival Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress chief who has floated the idea of a Federal Front of regional parties. 
CPI leader A.B. Bardhan, meanwhile, held separate meetings with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh and said a non-Congress, non-BJP platform could be possible only after the elections . The Left parties have called a convention on July 1.


Breaking point 
JD(U) sources described the situation as 'a point of no return'. Party general secretary Shivanand Tiwari accu­sed BJP of 'forcing' JD(U) to come out of NDA by projecting Narendra Modi. “BJP wants the blame for bre­a­king the alliance to come on JD(U)... Our opinion on Modi was well-known. We never invited Modi in Bihar for any election that the NDA fought there,” Tiwari said.


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