By Harihar Swarup
Take a look at three significant events in recent weeks. These political initiative will be a crucial in the general election scheduled for 2024. Earlier, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar met all opposition leaders for several hours in New Delhi. He met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and had dinner with Delhi CM. Arvind Kejriwal. Although Kejriwal has declared himself a Jihadi in fight against corruption. Nitish Kumar has also met with convicted leader, Om Prakash Chautala. He met with various Leftist factions and did not forget to meet Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is recovering in Medanta Hospital.
His son Akhilesh was also present during the meeting. On the final day of his visit, he had a lengthy conversation with senior most opposition leader Sharad Pawar. Nitish had previously met with Telangana CM K. Chandrashekhar Rao in Patna. He is scheduled to meet more non-BJP states’ ruled CMs like Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik.
Will Nitish Kumar be able to unite the divided Opposition and defeat the BJP?
Nitish and his allies think that because the BJP won 200 of the 250 seats in north and west India, even if it loses 40 of them, the picture might change. They know that BJP-led NDA won all of the seats in ten states and union territories in 2019 elections. This vast area is represented by 83 MPs. Furthermore the saffron party had won 184 Lok Sabha seats from a total of 264 in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Bihar.
The major NDA constituents in Punjab, Maharashtra and Bihar have chosen to break away. On this basis, they believe that the BJP will struggle to repeat the miracle on its own or with the help of some smaller parties.
This argument appears appealing, but it contains numerous pitfalls. Consider West Bengal. In 2019 general elections, the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 seats. Mamata Banerjee on the other hand, secured unprecedented victory in the recent assembly elections. it is worth noting that the Congress did not get any seat in 2021 assembly elections,, so was the position of the erstwhile powerful CPI(M)
Even after being in tune with Nitish Kumar, Mamata is not well disposed towards Congress and the Left parties.. Telangana’s CM KCR has expressed similar sentiments. Nitish Kumar will be in West Bengal in the coming days. Will Bihar CM be able to persuade Mamata and KCR, both Third Front supporters, to form a “Main Front”? Kejriwal, on the other hand, is opposed to such “manipulative” politics. Apart from these three, two other leaders have potential to stymie Opposition unity– Akhilesh Yadav and BSP leader Mayawati. It is impossible to win battle in U.P. unless these two are brought together.
Let us now look at the two other incidents. Recently, Rahul Gandhi embarked on the Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari. During this he will travel up to Kashmir. His motive is clear. In South India, the UPA, led by Congress, is in a relatively strong position.
The Congress won 27 out of 129 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Naidu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, while the BJP won 29 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress believes that if the atmosphere of unity warms up, the BJP will be unable to win as many seats there as it did in 2019 polls.
Kejriwal is flexing his muscles at the same time. Recently he launched the “Make India number one” from his home town Hissar. During this he will meet voters from across the country. He fought against Modi in 2014 but lost. It remains to be seen how successful his efforts will be in the coming days.
Let us come back to BJP. There are no major allies left with it, but BJP’s leadership doesn’t seem to mind. The reason? Modi, home minister Amit Shah, and BJP President J P Nadda continue to nurture the BJP’s desire for victory at any cost. It is not without any reason that on the same day Nitish Kumar met Kejriwal and Chautala, Shah and Nadda met the party’s ministers and office bearers. The agenda of the meeting was to focus on the 139 seats where the BJP finished second last time.
The BJP is also looking into forming an alliance with Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh. The Saffron Party is adept at playing its cards such as to catch everyone off guard. Maharashtra is the most recent example of this. Who knows what its next move is?
One thing is certain. The board for 2024 has been set up, but preliminary bets do not lead to any conclusion. Both teams have proficient players. It is preferable to wait for the final outcome. (IPA Service)