File photo of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Photograph:( WION )
Congress president Rahul Gandhi's meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar hours after the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar Lok Sabha bypoll results were announced, shows that the Congress leadership is serious on forging a bigger alliance of opposition parties, the NCP said today.
In a major blow to the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the saffron party was trounced in the bypolls to three Lok Sabha seats, including the citadel of Yogi Adityanath's Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.
"Rahul Gandhi has started meeting various party leaders and began this practice by meeting Pawar saheb. The Congress president is meeting party presidents who are senior to him," NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.
"Despite the Congress being the bigger party, Rahul Gandhi has started meeting leaders of other parties. This shows they (Congress) are serious on making a bigger alliance," Malik, a former Maharashtra minister, told PTI here.
The NCP leader said, "Rahul Gandhi wants that Pawar saheb should bring in more people (parties) in the country under the UPA fold."
Adityanath, who termed the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samajwadi Party alliance as one of "snake and mongoose", had said over-confidence and inability to understand the electoral understanding between the SP and the BSP led to the defeat in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats.
In Bihar, the Rashtriya Janata Dal retained Araria Lok Sabha seat and Jehanabad Assembly constituency, while the BJP held on to Bhabua.
Rahul Gandhi had received some praise from Pawar last month, who said the Congress party chief was showing an inclination to "learn and understand" the issues facing the nation.
Asked if the Shiv Sena, the BJP's bickering alliance partner, will withdraw support to the Narendra Modi government, like the TDP did, Malik said, the "Sena won't part ways with the BJP-led government."
"They (Sena) are just bargaining. They don't have the courage to go solo," the NCP leader said.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) today ended its four-year-old alliance with the BJP and walked out of the NDA, eight days after two of its Union ministers resigned over the Centre's refusal to grant Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh.