- Anti-BJP parties to challenge government on 5 issues in parliament
- Nitish Kumar, however, unlikely to back 3 of those issues like GST
- Parliament begins on Monday, 18 opposition parties plan to target it
"The opposition parties have broadly agreed to meet regularly during the parliament session to strategize how to confront the government on these 5 or 6 issues. Other tactics too are an on-going process. We will work cohesively. No one-upmanship," said Derek O'Brien, National Secretary of the Trinamool who is also the party's leader in the Rajya Sabha.
The leaders of the 18 parties met in Delhi on Tuesday and unanimously agreed on Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, as their candidate for Vice-President of India. At the same meeting, they agreed that they will extend their unity to pinning down the government in parliament, where the monsoon session starts on Monday.
Three of them are unlikely to find any buy-in from Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar. He has backed the government enthusiastically on the notes ban and on its implementation of GST starting July 1. Other opposition leaders were dead set against both. Mr Kumar has also not once condemned as politically motivated the raids and CBI investigation against Lalu Yadav, who is his partner in running Bihar, along with the Congress.
Mr Kumar was not present at the opposition's meeting in Delhi earlier this week. He was represented by Sharad Yadav, a top leader from his party. When Mr Yadav agreed with the opposition that the government's policies are hurting farmers, he was asked pointedly by other attendees on whether the Chief Minister shares his views.
In April, Mr Kumar was among the founders of the 18-party front that is testing its ability to work together and against the BJP ahead of the next general election. Last month, as the league faced its first big challenge, he swiveled over to the BJP, announcing that he would back its candidate, and not the opposition's, in the election for President of India which will be held on Monday.
His toggling extends to the current crisis for Lalu Yadav, whose 28-year-old son Tejashwi is Mr Kumar's deputy in Bihar is also charged with corruption by the CBI. Mr Kumar wants Yadav Junior to quit; so far, no luck. The alliance is now allegedly gasping for breath.
Of the Big 5 list of attack points shortlisted by the opposition, the Chief Minister will find common ground with the rest of the opposition on seeking urgent help for farmers and in condemning the government for "spreading fake news and inciting people communally", he will restrain his MPs from joining the chorus on the other three, said sources. That will perpetuate the premise that he is enabling a new arrangement that will see him pitched with the BJP and not against it.