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Opposition in unity

Opposition in unity
Even though the BSP candidate lost in Rajya Sabha elections, BSP supremo Mayawati has hinted that the understanding between her party and the Samajwadi Party (SP) will not be disturbed. She also said that she did not hold Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav responsible for the 1995 attack on her at the state guesthouse in Lucknow. She, however, flayed UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for appointing OP Singh, who was the Lucknow police chief when the attack took place. Just before the crucial Lok Sabha bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, Mayawati had lent support to SP candidates, who went on to defeat those of BJP, sending shockwaves into BJP camp and galvanising the opposition parties into a unification drive. UP council elections will take place next month and as many as 12 seats are vacant. The two parties are expected to continue with the understanding to support each other's candidates. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav has tweeted that the alliance between SP and BSP will give a tough fight to the BJP in Lok Sabha polls in 2019. In the last UP elections, both SP and BSP were rejected by the people and BJP came to power with a resounding majority. Ever since speculations were made about the future of the two parties. But the bypoll results have changed the equations and brought both Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav back on the national stage. The opposition parties are trying to unify themselves before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections so that they can take on BJP and NDA. The unification efforts have seen Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) floating the idea of People's Third Front, a non-Congress, non-BJP alliance of regional parties. He also went over to Kolkata for parleys with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the same issue. Though Banerjee agreed to the KCR proposal of unifying the regional parties into a grand alliance, there were differences between the two on the question of whether Congress can be a part of the alliance or not. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has talked with the Trinamool Congress leader about the need to have a grand alliance of regional parties who can come together based on a common minimum programme. Banerjee is said to have liked the Congress president's idea. While the opposition parties are trying very hard to put up a united fight against the BJP in next round of Lok Sabha elections, the BJP-led NDA has seen the Telugu Desam Party quitting the alliance over denial of special category status to Andhra Pradesh. In a letter addressed to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, BJP president has criticised him for acting on political considerations and not thinking about the interests of the state. He said the Centre has given Andhra Pradesh more than its due share of the central assistance. But the state government either did not spend it or directed the funds to some other projects and plans. To which Naidu replied that Shah's letter is nothing but a bundle of lies. The growing belligerence between BJP and TDP rules out any possibility of rapprochement between the two parties. Another NDA partner Shiv Sena has been criticising BJP on various issues both in Maharashtra and at the Centre.
The central plank that the opposition has against BJP or NDA include PNB bank fraud and fleeing away of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi from the country and non-performance on a host of issues including creation of new jobs. Implementation of demonetisation and GST also figures at the top of the Opposition's agenda. In a recent interview, Shah had termed the coming together of opposition parties to form a third front as a routine stunt and said that too much is being read into BJP's loss in Gorakhpur and Phulpur where the Congress lost its deposits. Clearly, both the opposition and the ruling BJP have issues against each other and now that a number of Assembly elections are lined up leading up to Lok Sabha polls next year, all these issues will come in the public domain for discussion. But as far as UP is concerned, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav have returned from the political wilderness and their constituencies of votes look stable and reliable. Though BJP enjoys an absolute majority in the Assembly, both SP and BSP will be making more noise each time there is an issue debated in public.

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