In a bid to strengthen the show of opposition unity, the Uttar Pradesh unit of Janta Dal (United) hopes that Nitish Kumar will reconsider his decision on fighting 2024 Lok Sabha elections from Phulpur. A few days back Kumar denied the offer saying he is only interested in uniting the opposition parties ahead of crucial Lok Sabha polls.
The Bihar chief minister also asserted that his efforts should reap benefits for the younger generation, "for people like (his deputy) Tejashwi Yadav".
Uttar Pradesh JD(U) president Anoop Singh Patel however said the party state unit hopes that Kumar will reconsider his decision. "We had given a proposal to him (Nitish Kumar) at the party's recent national convention in Patna to contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections from Phulpur, Mirzapur or Ambedkar Nagar. We haven't got a concrete answer, so we are hopeful," he said. He added that the proposal was put forth after holding discussions with state party workers.
Referring to the caste equation of the constituency, Patel said, "Our voters (Kurmi) constitute nearly 40 per cent of the electors in these seats." On the choice of Phulpur, Patel said, "The first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was elected from Phulpur. Former prime minister V P Singh was also elected from the seat. When our leader will contest from Phulpur, it will certainly send a strong message."
"Ambedkar Nagar is the birthplace of socialist ideologue Ram Manohar Lohia, and since we are disciples of Lohia ji, we have shortlisted this constituency as well," he said.
Mirzapur is very close to Bihar and "from there, we will send a message to Varanasi -- the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- that party workers of UP and Bihar are together", he added.
JD(U) leader Asheesh Saxena said if Kumar contests from any of the Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, then it will definitely send a strong message of Opposition unity across the country.
With 80 Lok Sabha constituencies, Uttar Pradesh sends the maximum number of MPs to the Lower House.
SP MLC Ashutosh Sinha also welcomed the move on the condition that SP chief supports the decision. "If the SP president extends support to him (Nitish Kumar), then the entire party will work hard to ensure that he wins the seat by a record margin," he said. SP leader Rakesh Verma said Kumar contesting general elections from the state will be "good" and will strengthen Opposition unity.
When contacted, SP's chief spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary however told that his party has not held any discussions with the JD(U) on the matter so far.
No talks have been held in this regard. The Lok Sabha elections are still one-and-half years away. As of now, this is not a matter of discussion," he said.
BJP MLA from Phulpur Praveen Patel, however, dismissed any challenge to the ruling party from the JD(U). The JD(U) does not have any organisation here. Hence, it will have no effect here, he said.
The BJP's Keshari Devi Patel represents the Phulpur constituency, while Union Minister of State and Apna Dal (Sonelal) leader Anupriya Patel has held the Mirzapur seat for two consecutive terms.
(With PTI Inpouts)