This Article is From Mar 20, 2023

Third Front Attempt? Arvind Kejriwal Planned Meet With 7 Chief Ministers

The letter was sent on February 5 to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan, Tamil Nadu's MK Stalin, and others.

New Delhi:

A fresh effort to move towards a Third Front ahead of 2024 general elections appears to have nosedived. This time, the author was Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, who wanted to enhance cohesion and form a forum of non-BJP, non-Congress Chief Ministers, with what, sources indicated, could be an eye to 2024. But the dinner he invited them to, never happened, with his invitees returning a less-than-warm response.

The Delhi Chief Minister -- who has been battling the Centre and its representative, the Lieutenant Governor, since coming to power in 2014 -- wrote to seven Chief Ministers, inviting them to Delhi on March 18. The idea was to find common cause and form a "progressive group of Chief Ministers" who were battling the Centre on similar issues.

The letter -- which has been accessed by NDTV -- was sent on February 5 to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan, Tamil Nadu's MK Stalin, Jharkhand's Hemant Soren and others.

Sources, however, said Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who was also among the invitees, has turned it down, citing poor health.

In recent years, Mr Rao has been the first to push for a non-BJP, non-Congress coalition, but appeared to have abandoned his efforts in view of the lukewarm response from other parties. He is focussing his attention now on taking his party to other states.

Mr Kejriwal was one of the few attendees when Mr Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi morphed into the national Bharat Rashtra Samithi last month.

Sources in Bihar and Bengal governments have also confirmed Mr Kejriwal's invite. The Delhi Chief Minister's office is yet to respond on the issue.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee -- one of the key interlocuters of the opposition in 2019 -- has already declared that she intends to go it alone in the 2024 general elections.

Bihar's Nitish Kumar, who, many hoped, would take a leadership role after he broke away from the BJP a second time, has insisted that he is not looking for the Prime Minister's post. His deputy Tejashwi Yadav today said, "Neither he (Nitish Kumar) wants to become the Prime Minister nor do I want to become the Chief Minister. We are happy where we are".

A united opposition for 2024 appears to be a long shot even though the Congress has declared that it is ready to work with like-minded parties, without seeking a leadership role in the alliance.