Buoyed by BJP's rout in by-polls, opposition leaders pitch for grand alliance

Patna, March 14 (IANS) Opposition leaders on Wednesday advocated, with renewed vigour, for a grand alliance to defeat the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections after it was crushed in the by-polls to three Lok Sabha seats, especially in Uttar Pradesh where an alliance of arch rivals SP and BSP sealed the BJPs fate.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was defeated on the Gorakhpur, and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh by Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine while the Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) defeated the Janata Dal United (JD-U) - an NDA ally -- on Araria Lok Sabha seat in Bihar.

The RJD had the backing of the Congress in Bihar though in Uttar Pradesh the Congress fielded its candidates on both seats.

Buoyed by the victory, a number of opposition leaders including RJD's Tejashwi Yadav and veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav on Wednesday called for a Grand Alliance at the national level to defeat the BJP.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee were quick to congratulate the victorious candidates of the opposition camp.

Although Samajwadi Party President and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav avoided a direct reply to the chances of his party forging an alliance with BSP and others for the next year's Lok Sabha polls, saying there was still time, but emphasised that the by-polls results did give a "message and a direction" to the national politics.

Gandhi, while congratulating the victorious candidates, said that the results showed the "electorate is very angry against the BJP and will vote for the non-BJP candidate most likely to win".

Tejashwi Yadav said the Samajwadi Party and the BSP should fight the 2019 Lok Sabha polls together and urged the Congress to join them.

"A Grand Alliance is the demand of time, it is the demand of the people. Keep your ego away. There is a need to teach a lesson to those who have destroyed the country," he said.

Sharad Yadav said even "a partial unity" among opposition parties was enough to defeat the BJP.

"The (BJP-led) government will go even if there is a partial unity among the opposition parties," he said.

Asked if the opposition parties were chalking out unity plans ahead of the 2019 general election, he said the "process is on" and added that the opposition unity was a "big challenge" and would take "time and honest efforts" to materialise.

Banerjee congratulated Akhilesh Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati and Lalu Prasad as the opposition took big leads over the BJP in Lok Sabha by-elections.

"Great victory. Congratulations to Mayawatiji and Akhileshji... The beginning of the end has started," the Trinamool Congress leader tweeted.

"Congratulations to Lalu Prasadji for winning Araria and Jehanabad. This is a great victory," she said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday said the BJP under-estimated the SP-BSP alliance that led to its defeat in the by-elections to the prestigious Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats and termed it as a lesson to the party which would do an introspection.

Reacting to the shocking defeat of the party in the seats held by him and his Deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya, he, however, expressed confidence that this would have no impact on the general elections in 2019 in which national issues will play a dominant role and it will be a vote on the performance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He said local factors play a role in by-elections but in the general elections, the good performance of the Modi government and its welfare schemes will have an impact in BJP's favour.

In Bihar, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi downplayed the RJD's victory, saying it was the result of sympathy votes in Lalu Prasad's favour.



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