By Nitya Chakraborty
The BJP juggernaut is on the roll. As the second half of the 2022 calendar year begins, the opposition parties remain toothless and rudderless. Right now, BJP has begun its three-day national executive session at Hyderabad. The buoyant leadership is focusing on the next assembly elections in Karnataka due early next year. The coup d’état against the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance government in Maharashtra is now complete, with the regime change on June 30 following resignation of the Shiv Sena Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Uddhav was emerging as a capable leader of the anti-BJP forces. His downfall is a big setback to the MVA in the state, as also the overall opposition at national level.
On the eve of the presidential elections, the NDA has been able to secure the support of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, as well as the JD(S) of Karnataka. Both are in the anti-BJP opposition camp and were signatories to the statement endorsing Yashwant Sinha as the common opposition candidate. This cleavage in opposition is expected to have its impact far beyond the presidential elections. BSP chief Mayawati has also supported the candidature of Droupadi Murmu, although that was expected as she was keeping distance from the anti-BJP opposition most of the times.
What are the latest signals from the current political developments? First, the NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu will win handsomely on July 18 presidential elections exposing grave disunity in the opposition camp. Second, the formation of the BJP-Shinde-led Shiv Sena group government in Maharashtra will embolden the central BJP leadership to apply the Maharashtra model next to Jharkhand.BJP will try to bring in JMM led by Soren again into alliance with the BJP. Third, in Karnataka, the BJP will target the MLAs of JD(S) to switch over to the BJP side before the assembly elections.BJP would like to ensure that the JD(S)does not have a total alliance with the Congress to challenge BJP in the next assembly elections.
As against this well strategized planning of the BJP, what is opposition doing? The principal opposition party the Congress is showing no signs of turnaround to combat the BJP juggernaut. The Congress president Sonia Gandhi is really unwell. All these developments are certainly having impact on her health. Further, she is under strain due to the summons by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the National Herald matter. She is a director of the concerned company under the scanner. She has to appear and reply to queries. The same with the de facto Congress head Rahul Gandhi. He has to appear once again before ED this month. RSS circles and some TV channels are spreading the rumour that ED could be arresting Rahul after one of these seemingly endless interrogation sessions. The apprehension could have affected Rahul’s proper functioning as the de facto leader of the Congress party.
The elections to the state assemblies of Gujarat and Himachal are due by the end of the year. BJP has completed all the planning and preparations for the assembly polls. Booth Committees have been set up and instructions have been issued in elaborate terms on how to ensure victory of the candidates. The Congress organisation in Gujarat is virtually non-functioning. The state leadership of the Congress is no match for the state leadership of the BJP. Further, the central war room of BJP is constantly monitoring the developments regarding the poll planning under the guidance of no other than Union home minister Amit Shah. In Himachal, the Congress polling machinery is much better prepared compared to Gujarat, but from July onwards, the BJP leadership is organising massive poll campaign in the northern hill state. Sangh Parivar outfits are working overtime to make a success of the party candidates.
The Congress is scheduled to hold its election to the post of president in August this year. No indication so far has come that it is postponed. But if it is held, it will certainly disturb the schedule of the Congress leaders for participation in campaigns for state assembly elections. Already, the Congress is much behind in campaign preparedness and there are no valid reasons for spending valuable time for its stage-managed party elections. Sonia Gandhi must choose a few senior leaders who will be addressing meetings apart from Rahul. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the most popular leader in the BJP camp, but the party has thrown up many young leaders who are addressing public meetings. Congress should not depend only one leader, Rahul Gandhi, for public campaigns.
As regards the non-Congress parties in the opposition, the situation is much better. Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee is solidly functioning in the state. It is expanding at the cost of BJP. In the recent elections to Darjeeling-based GTA, the BJP suffered big defeats in its strong holds in North Bengal. All indications are that the BJP seats will go down drastically in the next Lok Sabha elections from Bengal. Regarding DMK, Chief Minister M K Stalin is reigning supreme and he is guiding the front of anti-BJP parties including the Congress and Left with maturity. In Kerala, the Left Democratic Front led by P Vijayan is firmly in saddle. LDF is sure to do much better in the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 at the cost of the Congress seats. NCP is strong in Maharashtra despite the fall of the MVA government.
It is apparent that the 2024 Lok Sabha prospects have become dimmer due to latest political developments. Opposition turnaround before Lok Sabha elections depends on the scale of the Congress success. In 2004 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress led the opposition and formed the government. No political leader expected Vajpayee’s defeat after the India Shining campaign. But it happened. Congress campaign “Congress Ka Haath, Aam Aadmi Ke Sath” clicked. Now again less than two years before the 2024 elections, the Congress organisers at all levels have to go to those Aam Aadmi. The current lot has endured much more suffering compared to those before 2004 elections. They are seething with anger against the present BJP regime, but they have to be approached with care. This connect with suffering and aggrieved masses will only decide whether any change will be taking place after the 2024 national elections. (IPA Service)