the Opposition unite and pose a challenge to the BJP in the coming months?
There are so many ifs and buts. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had
organised a mammoth rally in Kolkata’s Brigade grounds on Saturday. A who’s who of the opposition had gathered to
prepare a roadmap for a coalition against the ruling BJP. Addressing the
‘United India rally’, Mamata predicted that BJP’s days are numbered and that
the “expiry date” of the Modi-led government is over.
rally was perhaps the beginning of the opposition efforts ahead of the 2019 Lok
Sabha polls to oust the BJP government.
Though earlier when the Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy took
oath in May last with several of them gracing the occasion, it did not move
forward but this time, it is likely to be followed up with another rally in
Amravati in Andhra Pradesh by N. Chandrababu Naidu and another in Delhi
organised by the Aam Admi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal.
impressive list of leaders from 23 parties including former Prime Minister Deve
Gowda, former Union ministers Sharad Pawar, Arun Shourie and Shatrugan Sinha,
three chief ministers – Chandrababu Naidu, Arvind Kejriwal and H D Kumaraswamy,
former chief ministers Akilesh Yadav, Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and
Geogong Apang among others, participated.
the podium Mamata Banerjee appealed to the country “Badal do, badal do, Delhi
mein sarkar badal do (change the government). The other speakers also echoed
the same sentiments. This is the first big effort after the BJP lost the three
big states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh last month.
opposition boasts of a wealth of leaders. But as former Prime Minister Deve
Gowda pointed out it would be a Herculean task as the problem is for different
party leaders to forget their differences and come together. There are many
opposition parties of various hues and ideologies pulling in different
possibility is not a national coalition but state specific alliances. The ego
of the regional chieftains comes in the way of unity. In fact the Congress
Party is working on this strategy and so do the other parties. For instance, in UP, the SP and the BSP have
come together keeping the Congress out. In West Bengal will the Congress go
with the Trinamool Congress or the Left? Will the Telugu Desam continue its
ties with the Congress in Andhra Pradesh where the Congress is almost zero? In
the northeast, alliance with regional parties is required. The Left parties
have remained outside, as they do not want to share the platform with Mamata
Banerjee. The Telengana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, who was busy
mobilising a federal front was absent at the rally because he did not want to
share the dais with Naidu and the Congress leaders. These are the challenges which come in the
way of opposition unity.
this issue is resolved, then comes the question of who would be its prime
ministerial candidate. This has been pushed aside for now, claiming that it
will be a collective leadership and the candidate can be decided in the post
poll scenario. “Throw the BJP out. We
will figure out who can become the Prime Minister. Modiji need not worry,” says
Banerjee. Even the Congress has agreed that the decision should be only in the
post poll scenario. The opposition therefore will go without a challenger to
Modi despite its galaxy of leaders while he will do a presidential style
third challenge is for the regional satraps to show an extraordinary
determination to sweep the polls in their respective states. They did well in
2014 by winning an impressive number of seats. A repeat performance would go a
long way in challenging Modi.
fourth challenge is a “one-on-one fight” against the BJP. This would avoid a
division of opposition votes but it appears difficult. Prime Minster Modi is
counting on a divided opposition to win in 2918.
fifth and the more important is that the opposition has no new narrative. Just
Modi- bashing will not get them votes. Unless they come up with a vision,
voters will not be enthused.
Prime Minister has reacted in his characteristic style: “My stand on corruption
has made some people angry as I prevented them from looting public money; they
have formed the mahagathbandhan.” Modi is sticking to his corruption plank.
is no doubt that the opposition unity is very difficult but no harm in
trying. After all the BJP came to power
with just 31 per cent vote share in 2014.
As one of opposition leader said “Manzil bahut door hai, Raasta bahut
kathin hai; Dil mile na mile, Haath mila ke chalo” (our destination is far and
the path is difficult; despite our differences, we have to tread the path holding
hand together). The coming days and weeks will show whether the opposition
means what it says. (IPA Service)
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