The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National
Democratic Alliance exhibited signs of further expansion and consolidation on Friday, while the Opposition
unity witnessed more cracks.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met Tamil Nadu CM K Palaniswami. The meeting, their second within a month, comes in the wake of speculation of a merger of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazghagam (AIADMK)’s two factions, and their possible induction in the BJP-led NDA.
The surprise of the day was Prime Minister Narendra Modi stopping to meet Congress leader and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda
in the Central Hall of Parliament, where the two chatted in Gujarati. Hooda had studied in Jamnagar and is fluent in Gujarati.
Hooda currently finds himself embroiled in cases related to alleged illegal allotment of land to Associated Journals Limited, which publishes Congress mouthpiece National Herald
, when he was the Haryana CM, and also allotment of land to Robert Vadra. However, there is also speculation that Hooda could join the BJP, which desperately needs a Jat leader in its ranks and could replace current Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar, who is perceived to have been a failure.
continued to show signs of disarray. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) boycotted an Opposition
meeting called by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
NCP’s Praful Patel said his party protested accusations by Congress leaders in Gujarat that its two legislators voted for the BJP candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections, and not Congress’s Ahmed Patel. The development comes in the wake of speculation that NCP
is on its way to break ranks with the Opposition, and could be the third alternative in the Gujarat assembly polls, which would eat into the Congress vote share.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury walked out midway of the Opposition
meet. Before leaving, Yechury conveyed his party’s position that it was averse to electoral alliances but willing to launch joint agitations on issues that concerned the people, particularly farm distress and unemployment. However, it was evident that apart from its party line, the increased proximity of Congress and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has contributed to the CPI (M) and Congress drifting apart.
In a related development, rebel Janata Dal (United) Rajya Sabha member Ali Anwar attended the Opposition
meeting. Anwar is a lieutenant of senior leader Sharad Yadav, and had attended the meeting at his behest since Yadav is currently touring Bihar. Later in the day, JD (U) secretary general KC Tyagi said Anwar has been suspended for attending the Opposition
meeting concluded with the 16-parties agreeing to form a sub-group to chalk out plans for joint strategy against the Modi government in the period before the winter session of Parliament in November. This would focus on raising issues of joblessness and farm distress. Opposition
leaders are slated to meet on August 17 for a conference in New Delhi and then for Opposition
unity rally called by Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad in Patna on August 27.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, who was in New Delhi to attend the oath taking ceremony of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was hosted for lunch by BJP chief Amit Shah. It was Kumar’s first meeting with the PM after he walked out of the ‘grand alliance’ in Bihar.
On Yadav’s rebellion, the Bihar CM said the senior leader was free to take his decision. The JD (U) is hopeful of getting a cabinet and a minister of state berth in the impending reshuffle and expansion of the union cabinet. Kumar also met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The Bihar government expects more central assistance from the Centre. JD (U) is expected to formally join NDA
at its national
executive meeting in Patna on August 19.