Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav on Sunday said any national coalition against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance would be incomplete without the Congress, PTI reported. He said the Congress was the “fulcrum” of any such alliance.

In an interview to the news agency, Yadav, however, opined that Congress should only focus on the 200-odd seats in the Lok Sabha where it is in a direct fight with the ruling BJP.

“On remaining seats, with an open heart and mind, it [Congress] should let regional parties be in the driving seat in their respective strongholds to root out the BJP,” he added.

Yadav’s endorsement of the Congress is the latest amid speculations of the Opposition putting up a joint front against the saffron party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

On June 22, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar met leaders of eight political parties in a meeting in which Congress was missing. The meeting sparked off rumours of a “third front”, besides the Congress and BJP. However, three days later, Pawar said Congress cannot be left out of an alternative front if it is formed. On Saturday, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut also dismissed the prospect of an Opposition alliance without the Congress.

Responding to questions on the Lok Janshakti Party, Yadav reached out to Chirag Paswan, who is facing a rebellion from leaders of his own outfit. The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader said Chirag Paswan could pay a “tribute” to his late father Ram Vilas Paswan by joining the Opposition.

“Ram Vilas Paswan Ji was a socialist and a firm believer in the idea of social justice throughout his life,” Yadav said. “The real tribute to him would be carrying forward his values and legacy and that is possible only when Chirag ji joins this existential fight against [MS] Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts”. Yadav was referring to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue MS Golwalkar’s book.

Tejashwi Yadav pointed out that his father Lalu Prasad Yadav had nominated Ram Vilas Paswan to the Rajya Sabha from RJD’s quota of seats when he lost the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and the Lok Janshakti Party did not have a single MLA in the Bihar Assembly.

“Has anybody done or sacrificed so much for any other leader or party in the country,” Tejashwi Yadav asked.

Yadav’s comments came a day after Chirag Paswan hinted at a possible alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal. He even referred to Tejashwi Yadav as his “younger brother”. Earlier, Paswan had said he expected a call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his “difficult time”.

The LJP plunged into a crisis earlier in June when five of its six Lok Sabha MPs rebelled against Paswan and told Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla that they have chosen Pashupati Kumar Paras as the party’s leader in Parliament. Paras is Paswan’s uncle.

The move was effectively a coup against Paswan, who is the sixth LJP MP. Birla had accepted Paras as the floor leader of the LJP in the Lower House.

After this, the LJP faction, led-by Chirag Paswan, expelled Paras and the four other MPs who had revolted against him. This came soon after the rebel leaders removed Paswan as the national president in an emergency meeting of the LJP national working committee.