Lucknow: RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary on Sunday said the Congress should play a supporting role in states dominated by regional parties in seat-sharing agreements ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Backed by the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, and the Bhaujan Samaj Party, Chaudhary's Rashtriya Lok Dal recently won the Kairana parliamentary bye-election, boosting expectations of opposition unity.
Admitting that seat-sharing was a difficult task, particularly in Uttar Pradesh where there are as many as four major parties, the RLD vice president said all partners will have to show magnanimity to halt the BJP in its tracks.
In states where the Congress is the main party, he suggested that the regional parties should support it.
While in the others, where the regional parties are in the vanguard, the Congress will have to play the supporting role, he told PTI, suggesting a formula to keep the fledgeling flock together.
"It is, however, for the Congress to take a call on this, but all the constituents have realised that this is the way forward," he said in a telephone interview.
He said the realisation had already dawned in Karnataka where the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) have formed the government.
He added that things are moving in the same directions in Madhya Pradesh with reports of the Congress and the BSP trying to come together for the assembly elections later this year.
Referring to the bye-elections for Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana Lok Sabha constituencies won by the opposition in UP in the last few months, Chaudhary said, the three bye-elections have broken the myth of the BJP's invincibility and all parties have realised the fact that this is the way forward.
"If things can be managed properly in Uttar Pradesh, the 2019 poll results will be different," he said.
"The fact that the three main parties - the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the RLD ? are being led by a new generation of leaders will be most helpful," the 39-year-old leader said.
He said the victory of the opposition-backed candidate in Kairana and Nurpur bye-elections carry the message from the people that they want opposition unity.
Chaudhary said his party will use samajik gathjodh (social alliance) to foil attempts to make elections in western UP Hindu-Muslim as it did just now by defeating the BJP in these by-polls.
Asked about the leader of a possible opposition alliance in the next Lok Sabha polls, he said, "This decision will be based on numbers. But all the experienced leaders of opposition will take a collective decision."
On the possibility of Rahul Gandhi leading the opposition bloc, the RLD leader said, "I have worked with him. He now has a lot of experience in politics. First, the Congress party has to decide, then opposition leaders will take a call."
He said the new-generation leaders carry no burden of history and are very comfortable with each other, and this can be translated into providing a political alternative.
Chaudhary, who is the son of RLD chief Ajit Singh and grandson of Jat leader Charan Singh, was an MP from Mathura in the previous Lok Sabha.
"Coalition politics is nothing new for the country as it helps in giving representation to the diversity of the country," he said, adding even Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Adityanath are leading coalitions.
He said besides pointing at a formula to success for anti-BJP parties, the bye-election result have shown people the possibility of an alternative.
Till now the momentum had been in favour of the BJP and people believed that no one could face the 'Chanakya niti' of party president Amit Shah, he said.
The ruling party also does not have the excuse that its top leadership had remained absent from Kairana, he said.
"Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was there twice and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also visited the adjoining areas just before the polling, while deputy CMs, Union ministers and MPs stayed put in the constituency," he said.
The RLD leader was also critical of the campaign undertaken by the BJP, saying the party leaders indulged in negative talk which was unbecoming of those occupying such high posts.
"We successfully managed to put the government on the mat raising questions on development and farmers issues, he said.
These are important matters and cannot be ignored by any government," he added.