Can Sharad Yadav unite the Opposition ahead of 2019 polls?

Estranged Janata Dal (United) leader's show of strength attracts Opposition attention but media gives it a miss. 

ByAtul Chaurasia
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Can Sharad Yadav unite the Opposition ahead of 2019 polls?
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Barely 200 metres from Parliament, Constitution Club in New Delhi was choc-a-bloc with people discussing alternatives to the current dispensation governing the country and raising the hopes of the participants and a few observers.

The club was hosting Sajhi Virasat Bachao, loosely translated ‘Save Our Composite Culture’, organised by estranged Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav and his camp after parting ways with Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar following his decision to re-cement ties with the BJP and continue in Bihar chief minister’s seat.

Though the event was an outcome of the split between Nitish and Sharad, it became an Opposition jamboree with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls figuring prominently on everyone’s radar. This can be termed a historical moment in Sharad Yadav’s political career for bringing the opposition together especially when people were assuming he had been dealt a knockout blow by Nitish’s move to re-align with the BJP.

There were those who thought Sharad Yadav will not be able to muster a crowd after losing power in Bihar and being removed as the JD (U) Rajya Sabha leader but the event on Thursday and the presence of the who’s who of the political spectrum was a strong riposte to such talk.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress Rajya Sabha leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, National Conference leader  Farooq Abdullah, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI national secretary D. Raja and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Manoj Jha, Samajwadi Party leader  Ram Gopal Yadav, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Choudhary, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha chief Babulal Marandi and Prakash Ambedkar participated in the meet.

JD(U) MP Ali Anwar, representatives of Janata Dal (Secular) and Trinamool Congress were also present, in short, the entire opposition was standing in solidarity with Sharad Yadav. But this opposition turnout didn’t gain the attention of the national media nor did it create a buzz on social media unlike other political meets do.

The event pointed to the work in progress to cobble a united Opposition that can mount a challenge to the Narendra Modi government. Such alliances are yet stillborn because no national party has come together in a pre-poll grouping.

But if the statements of leaders who were at Constitution Club today is proof, 2019 will see a BJP vs a united Opposition battle and occasioned by an event like Sanjhi Virasat.

This could well be Sharad Yadav’s Jayaprakash Narayan moment. The veteran leader had given a call against the Indira Gandhi government by starting the Sampoorna Kranti movement and eventually dethroned Mrs Gandhi.

Sharad Yadav has challenges like JP against him. JP had fielded Yadav to test Opposition unity in the Jabalpur Lok Sabha bypoll in 1974 but those who had assembled by their side was also the erstwhile right wing party, the Jan Sangh. Sharad Yadav, in turn, has to fight the same right wing outfit after its rebirth as the Bharatiya Janata Party.

History has brought Sharad Yadav to a crossroads where he has to follow the path of his political guru JP and repeat what he did in the 1970s. Unlike JP, Sharad Yadav can pay his tributes to JP without making room for the BJP in the same camp.

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