By Nitya Chakraborty
If the reports about the negotiations among the leading opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh- Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal, on seat sharing for the coming Lok Sabha poll are any indication, the opposition parties have made a major breakthrough in achieving their objective of unitedly ousting the Narendra Modi government from power in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Once, the deal is officially announced, possibly before the coming assembly elections in the three BJP ruled states by the end of this year, that will galvanise the efforts of the opposition parties in coming to a seat sharing understanding against the BJP and its NDA allies, taking into account the ground reality of the political situation.
Uttar Pradesh is the largest state of the country having 80 seats in Lok Sabha. In 2014 Lok Sabha poll, BJP along with its ally Apna Dal got 73 seats and that gave a big boost to the saffron party in acquiring a majority on its own in the present Lok Sabha. This was an unusual performance of the BJP and it did not reflect the consistent voting trends in the state which has always witnessed four cornered or three cornered contests.BJP was always depending on the rivalry between the SP and the BSP for getting seats and that helped the BJP in a big way in the 2014 elections, apart from the Modi wave that swept the Hindi heartland, especially Uttar Pradesh.
Both the SP and the BSP have learnt lessons from the last Lok Sabha poll and the united efforts of BSP, SP along with the Congress and RJD led to spectacular performance in the recent by elections, creating panic in BJP leadership. That was evident at Modi’s speeches during his recent visits to Uttar Pradesh. Prime Minister’s speech at Azamgarh was not a normal election speech, it was an address by a politician who was seething with rage and showing signs of fear. It was quite apparent that the BJP leadership is directionless in framing its election strategy for Uttar Pradesh, the outcome of which will be a deciding factor in choosing the ruling combination after the coming Lok Sabha poll.
Both Modi and Amit Shah are now frequent visitors to UP, the lifeline of BJP’s road to power at the centre in 2019, but nothing is working. The by elections were held in the thick of the saffron forces Hindutva campaign but despite the antics of the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the continuing spate of communal incidents, the BJP’s campaign on Hindutva plank failed. The BJP leadership has long ago given up on their PM’ slogan of acche din, because this is going to have adverse reactions on the common people. So there is no election campaign plank excepting polarizing the electorate further and try the saffron luck on reinforced Hindutva slogan.
For generating the present uncomfortable situation for BJP in UP, credit must go to the SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav. He has shown his statesmanship in dealing with the post 2017 assembly defeat situation. Akhilesh has rejuvenated the SP organization, inspired the cadres and took personal initiative in uniting the anti-BJP parties. He took the lead but there was immediate response from the BSP chief Mayawati and this combination resulted in the by elections victories in the state as also, facilitated the process of coming bigger wins in the Lok Sabha elections. Akhilesh, indications suggest, has been showing rare accommodative stance to the BSP in seat sharing in the interests of forging the unity of the secular parties in UP.SP is ready to fight in lesser number of seats compared to BSP and is ready to accommodate RLD from its own quota.
This approach of Akhilesh should be a model for the Congress Party which is now committed to forge alliance, even with the smaller parties, in the states to prevent division of anti-BJP votes..In Madhya Pradesh, talks are going on between the Congress and the BSP for sear sharing for the assembly elections scheduled in November/December this year. The assembly elections in three states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are crucial for having positive impact on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the Congress leadership has to emulate Akhilesh approach to come to an alliance with the BSP in all the three states. The BSP has also to see that the state leaderships do not inflate the seat demands. A perfect understanding of the Congress and the BSP as also some adjustments with other one or two smaller parties, will make a big difference in the marginal seats against the BJP and like the by election victories in UP, the Congress-BSP combination will be in a commanding position in the assembly elections in these three states.
The Congress is the leading party of the opposition front against the BJP and that is why its responsibility is maximum in ensuring unity in the opposition ranks. The state leaderships have their own perceptions and many of the state Congress PCCs are not so inclined to share seats. The Congress high command has to ensure that its objective approach on alliance with the likeminded parties, is implemented by the state Congress leaderships. The Congress will be more benefitted in terms of winning seats, if the party concedes a few seats more to any other opposition party to retain the alliance.
The opposition alliance talks are going well in a number of states where the Congress is not the major party. In Tamil Nadu, the DMK is the leader of the anti-BJP front and talks are on for seat sharing with the Congress as also the Left. In Bihar, the RJD, as the biggest anti-BJP party has taken the initiative to form the alliance with the participation of the Congress and the Left. Both JD(U) led by the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the LJD led by the union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, are unhappy with the BJP and they might explore new options in the coming months. In Jharkhand and Maharashtra, the Congress has been able to tie up with the anti-BJP parties. In Maharashtra, the Congress-NCP alliance may be expanded to include some smaller parties.
All in all, there is a congenial atmosphere for opposition unity against the BJP. The states headed by the non-BJP regional parties can be tackled separately in a manner that finally the non-BJP parties get the seats. The Congress has to work on framing a common minimum programme. The CMP must be ready before the assembly elections later this year. Rahul Gandhi has to incorporate in the CMP the pro people programmes which he has been talking. Taking lessons from the decade long functioning of the UPA government, the earlier CMP has to be tweaked to reflect the immediate demands from the underprivileged and the challenges of the global economy. Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh are the youngest among the opposition leaders who are taking on the BJP and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They, along with Mamata and Mayawati must inspire the masses for creating the necessary political environment for ensuring victory of opposition in the coming Lok Sabha poll. (IPA Service)
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