By Nitya Chakraborty
The non-BJP chief ministers belonging to the regional parties have become most active in the ongoing phase of the state assemblies elections getting the smell of a weakened BJP after the results are out on March 10.Telangana chief minister K C Chandrasekhar Rao has emerged as the most strident critic of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the recent days. In his meeting with the Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday in Mumbai in the presence of the Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar, KCR and the two other leaders have given the call to remove the BJP government from power in the next Lok Sabha elections. A meeting of the non BJP chief ministers is likely to be held next month after March 10.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who already set the tone earlier by talking to KCR, the Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin and the Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, has called the meeting of the National Working Committee of Trinamool Congress in Delhi on March 10. She will be in Delhi for a few days after the results are out, it seems and it is expected that she will have dominating role in navigating the course of discussions of the non-BJP parties and the chief ministers. It is significant that the Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole welcomed the meeting of the troika on Sunday but underlined that such a non-BJP front could achieve success only with the support of the Congress.
Patole could not have made this statement without the approval of the party high command, because this is a sensitive issue and the picture is not yet clear, But this means that the Congress leadership, mainly Rahul Gandhi is hopeful that the course of the discussions after March 10, will not necessarily be taking a turn towards a front of non-Congress and non-BJP parties. Whatever Mamata has said after her talks with M K Stalin that the Congress can go its own way’ we will have our front’, the political reality is different.
As of now, the two powerful Chief Ministers M K Stalin and Uddhav Thackeray are of the view that the Congress should be an integral part of the non-BJP front. In fact, both Stalin and Uddhav have high regard for Rahul Gandhi and they do not rule out his potential role as a leader of the combined opposition. Sharad Pawar, right now is trying to improve his bargaining position vis a vis the Congress, but still he is not in full agreement with Mamata on her latest stance towards the Congress and Rahul Gandhi.
That way, the scenario is just developing now and it will take some concrete shape only after the results of the assembly elections are out on March 10. That is why Mamata has called the NWC meeting of Trinamool on March 10 in Delhi and she may like other CMs also to be here in the days after March 10. If the Congress can retain Punjab and get back at least one state out of three Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur, Rahul Gandhi’s stature will be going up in the eyes of the opposition camp. and this will have immediate impact on the shape of the opposition front. But if Congress does badly, Mamata will be able to influence the course of discussions in the post March 10 period.
Indications from the polling trends so far suggest that the Congress might scrape through in Punjab and has a chance to emerge as the largest single party in Goa. If the Congress is in a position to form a government in Goa with the help of Trinamool and the AAP, there will be a change in situation leading to a congenial environment for understanding between the Congress and Mamata. Mamata has already indicated that Trinamool will be ready for a coalition with the Congress in Goa against the BJP, if there is a hung assembly. AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal has also said so,
So it all depends now on the Congress success or failure in the elections to the five states out of which polling has been over in three. Nobody expects Congress to do well in Uttar Pradesh. Samajwadi Party is the main challenger. If BJP strength can be reduced even to within 230 out of 403 total seats, that will be a big loss of face for BJP. This will energise both the SP and the Congress for the battle in Lok Sabha elections two years later. BJP won 325 seats in 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP have crucial importance for the 2024 Lok Sabha poll.
Some leaders in KCR camp are projecting to him a 1996 like post Lok Sabha election political scenario. Deve Gowda was made the Prime Minister of the non Congress opposition front with the support of the Congress from outside. The situation in 2022 is now different. The anti-Congressism of the 1990s is gone and all the parties are trying to unite against the BJP and take on the ruling regime in the 2024 elections. This is best possible by an understanding of the main anti-BJP national party Congress and the non-BJP regional parties including Trinamool Congress Any other course will only help the BJP. Sharad Pawar knows it and so many of the regional chief ministers. (IPA Service)