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Bihar: Nitish Kumar’s manoeuvre a boost to larger Opposition play

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The manner in which Nitish Kumar dramatically turned the tables on BJP with characteristic precision and aplomb, and the speed with which his JDU, RJD, Congress, Left and a few other parties realigned to prop up the Mahagathbandhan-2 in Bihar comes at a time when the larger anti-BJP politics was gasping for some refreshing political breath after being constantly at the receiving end of the overpoweringly aggressive politicking of the saffron party and the Centre.

Amid the gloom in the opposition camp over the collapse of the MVA government of Maharashtra, an unlikely coalition experiment that had been showcased as an example of wider possibility in the convergence of ideological and turf differences on an anti-BJP and anti-Centre platform, the second coming of Mahagathbandhan provides the much-needed tactical and psychological booster shot and talking points for the national opposition gallery.

The swiftness of the ‘Bihar operation’ has left the usually ever-ready-to-fight-to-the-finish Centre and the BJP leadership with not a bunker to fire back means, in the opposition perspective, the projected invincibility of the saffron juggernaut in the fights for supremacy and in regimes-changing operations has been beaten by the ‘chakra vyuh’ of a seven-party Mahagathbandhan.

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The fact that both Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav projected this turnaround as a larger message for the national opposition on how with skill and determination BJP can be outfoxed is meant as national broadcast for a renewed anti-BJP narrative in the runup to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The opposition’s success in Bihar comes at a time when the Congress has narrowly survived poaching bids in Goa and Jharkhand.

On a personal front, Kumar’s timely ejection from BJP cockpit by keeping his JDU intact means he not only averted the fate of Uddhav Thackery and a possible tryst with a ‘Bihari Eknath Shinde’, but more importantly, he has kept, for now, one up in his legendary duel with PM Modi, that started with him walking out of the NDA against Modi’s projection as the BJP’s PM candidate for 2014 polls. Even as both rejoined in 2017 on mutual compulsions, the larger guess has always been about who will pull whose rug next.

Going by the lessons of the collapse of the first Mahagathbandhan in 2017, it may be difficult to hazard a guess on the longevity of its second (larger) edition. Yet, the 2015 Bihar polls showed the RJD-JDU alliance (along with Congress) undoing the Hindutva surge with Mandal remake. That potential (now reinforced with four more alliance partners) holds hope for Mahagathbandhan-2, and a challenge for BJP, in the 2024 battle in the state with 40 LS seats.

The exit of JDU also strengthens the narrative that BJP’s expansionist mission ends up clashing with the interests of its traditional allies, prompting many of them, including Shiv Sena, Akali Dal, AGP, MGP, PDP, to either quit the saffron alliance or get swallowed up or split. As the Mahagathbandhan-2 will add to the opposition efforts, at a time when many of the regional biggies are feeling the heat of probe to cobble up larger anti-BJP alliances for 2024 for their sheer survival, BJP appears to be banking more and more on the expanding saffron electoral landscape and PM Modi’s ability to sway voters. Within the opposition, the Mahagathbandhan-2 once again underscores the powerful regional parties not only jointly taking on BJP but also pushing Congress to the second fiddle, a trend that may set the opposition course towards 2024 battle.



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Naveen Patnaik must end ‘neutrality’, join Janata Parivar: JD(U) leader

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Time has come for Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to end his “neutrality” and join the larger Janata Parivar to lead the nation, senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi said. Demanding Bharat Ratna for legendary leader Biju Patnaik, Tyagi said the BJD should lend a hand to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar‘s efforts in bringing together like-minded parties to form an alternative to the BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
“Time has come for Naveen-babu to end his neutrality, and come forward to join the Janata Parivar and lead the nation,” he said.

He said Patnaik is known for espousing the cause of social justice, and is welcome to join Nitish Kumar’s ‘Mission for 2024’.

“Naveen-babu should understand the situation and join hands with socialist forces to form a new India along with old friends of his father Biju-babu,” Tyagi said.
“BJD should also lend a hand to Nitish Kumar’s effort to forge unity among like-minded political parties to provide an alternative to the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls,” he added.
Tyagi made the statement at a press conference he was addressing here on Monday along with leaders of RJD, SP and the CPIML(L).

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“We want to tell our friends in the opposition — Mamata-didi, KCR — who are talking about a non-Congress and non-BJP alternative, they should understand that we have to come together to defeat the BJP. It is not possible without Congress,” he said.

Demanding caste census across the country on the lines of the one being done by the Bihar government, Tyagi said reservation for a community should be proportionate to their share in the population.



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MVA announces massive protest march on December 17 in Mumbai

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The opposition Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) announced a massive protest march in Mumbai on December 17 against the Eknath Shinde government for insulting Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute while also demanding to remove Maharashtra’s Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari over his controversial remark over Shivaji.
Addressing the Press conference Uddhav Thackeray said, “On this 17th Dec, we will hold a ‘Morcha’ from Jijamata Udyan to Azad Maidan in Mumbai against the current state government, and demands to remove Maharashtra’s Governor, I appeal to all those who love Maharashtra to come together against those who have insulted the state.”

Uddhav also slammed the state government over the Maharashtra-Karnataka border issue.

Stepping up its attack on the government, Thackeray said, “Karnataka has been asking for our areas, villages and even Jath, Solapur will they ask our Pandarpur Vithoba too? This raises one question-is there any govt in Maharashtra? Like before the Gujarat elections, some businesses were shifted there, so before the Karnataka elections will our villages be given to Karnataka?..”
“See how Karnataka CM statement and there is BJP govt in the state, and CM Shinde become CM here because of BJP, they are not saying anything on the issues and there is an attempt to insult our leaders and icons of Maharashtra so we are doing this aandolan,” Leader of the opposition party Ajit Pawar said.
Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat said, “They have insulted Shivaji Maharaj, Jyotiba Phule and keep insulting and even Maharashtra Karnataka border issue and the statement given by Karnataka CM and here no one is replying in strong language from this government. All these issues must be addressed by this govt so we have decided to hold big Morcha.”

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The controversy erupted in the state after Maharashtra’s Governor said that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was an “old icon”.

Addressing a function at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University in Aurangabad on November 19, Governor Koshyari said, “If someone asks who your idol is, you don’t have to go out looking for one. You will find them right here in Maharashtra. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj has become an old idol now, you can find new ones — from Babasaheb Ambedkar to (Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways) Nitin Gadkari.”

This statement sparked a massive furore and drew censure from Maratha organisations and opposition leaders alike.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said that he has appealed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to fight the border dispute issue legally as it is in court now.

“We have already communicated to them that it will create law and order problem, therefore, it’s not the right time to come. I appeal to Maharashtra CM that the matter is in court and fight it legally,” said Karnataka CM on the visit of Maharashtra ministers.

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Hold G20 as national, not BJP, event: opposition

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Leaders of about 15 opposition parties, including some chief ministers, extended their support to the government on Monday to India hosting the G20 under her presidency but stressed that the event be treated as a collective national affair and not be projected as the ruling party’s event.
Many of them pointed out the rotational arrangement ensures all member nations get to hold the G20 presidency.

They also told Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an all-party meeting that the gathering should also be taken as an opportunity to showcase India’s democratic and pluralist society.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the G20 was conceptualised and formed when the Congress was in power. He also said India has hosted many global summits in the past with a collective national spirit, and hoped that the G20 event would be hosted in the same national tradition.
Stalin underscored the national spirit behind India heading G20 and stressed that the event can showcase the country’s inclusive and federal principles.
Ahead of the meeting, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said the Centre could have used any national symbol other than the lotus (the BJP symbol) for the G20 logo.

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