Nitish wanted early INDIA seat-sharing, launch of LS campaign on Gandhi Jayanti: JD(U) leader

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had desired an early seat-sharing in the INDIA bloc so that the campaign for the Lok Sabha polls could have been launched on Gandhi Jayanti, a close aide of the JD(U) supremo claimed here on Friday.

JD(U) national general secretary Sanjay Kumar Jha, who has attended INDIA bloc meetings along with Kumar, rued that precious time has been wasted but hoped that seat-sharing will be finalised by the end of this month.

“There has been much delay in seat-sharing, no doubt about that. Nitish Kumar had, at one of the meetings held last year, suggested that constituents complete the process before October. He had proposed that the multi-party coalition hit the campaign trail from Raj Ghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi at Delhi, on October 2,” Jha told reporters at the JD(U) office here.

Jha said the Bihar chief minister came up with such a proposal because he understood that to take on the BJP, the INDIA bloc needed to match the saffron party’s pace.

“One reason why this could not happen was that the Congress got busy with assembly elections in five states,” he said.

“We hope that at least now allies will pay heed to his suggestion of completing seat-sharing by the end of January. INDIA bloc can aim at forming the next government in the country provided we act fast,” added Jha, who also holds crucial portfolios of Information and Public Relations and Water Resources in the Nitish Kumar cabinet.

Jha’s claim is in consonance with Kumar having publicly voiced his exasperation, a couple of months ago, over the INDIA coalition’s inability to build on the momentum it had generated, for which he blamed the Congress’s preoccupation with the assembly polls.

The Congress, which succeeded in wresting Telangana from K Chandrasekhara Rao’s BRS, nonetheless ended up losing Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh to the BJP which also succeeded in retaining Madhya Pradesh surmounting the incumbency factor despite having ruled the state for three consecutive terms.

The assembly polls results have resulted in a big morale boost for the BJP, which is bracing for a hat-trick in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, much to the detriment of INDIA which was formed less than six months ago.

Asked about taunts being hurled at Kumar by the BJP over not being made INDIA’s “convener”, Jha said, “Our leader had made it clear at the outset that he desired no designation for himself. His sole aim was to bring together parties opposed to the NDA.

“BJP leaders keep saying their doors are closed for Nitish Kumar. They should tell us when did anybody seek a realignment with them? It was not they, but us, who had pulled the plug on the alliance because of their behaviour which had been so unbecoming of a coalition partner,” he added.

Notably, Kumar had snapped ties with the BJP in August, 2022, accusing it of trying to engineer a split in JD(U) in order to undermine him politically. The JD(U) supremo, who last week formally took over as the party’s national president, has been working to bring together leaders opposed to the BJP.

He had also hosted the first meeting of opposition leaders here in June last year, paving the way for the formation of the INDIA coalition.