Anti-#Modi Alliance starts taking shape
The Karnataka developments have given the much needed fillip to moves for opposition unity to take on the #Narendra Modi led National Democratic Alliance, #NDA, in next year’s Lok Sabha elections. The BJP has been riding high on the back of election victories in Assembly elections in the last four years after its stunning win in the 2014 general elections, which ended ten years of Congress led United Progressive Alliance, #UPA, rule at the national level in India. The party now rules over 20 states in the country, either on its own, or in alliance with partners.
The first set back for the BJP in the recent past came with its less than expected performance in the Assembly elections in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Hoping to win over 150 seats, the party could not muster even a century in the state Assembly despite Modi’s extensive, comprehensive and unprecedented election campaign in the state.
This was followed by BJP’s defeats in the by-elections to Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. The losses were all the more galling as the seats had been vacated by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy on their election to the State Assembly, and on occupying ministerial positions in the State.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly elections held in Karnataka. But its move to form the government in the State, despite not having the numbers for that through colourable use of discretion by the State Governor, made the party virtually fall flat on its face.
#Quick footed Congress
The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) eventually formed the Government in the State after the BJP was forced to step down even before facing the confidence vote in the State Assembly. What was remarkable in the episode was the #quick footedness of the Rahul Gandhi led Congress, which offered unconditional support to the JD(S) to thwart the BJP designs.
This agility in the Congress now appears to be travelling from Rahul Gandhi to other Congress leaders, and even other opposition leaders. The Congress election campaign chief in Madhya Pradesh, Jyotirditya Scindia, for example, has said that the party is open to an alliance with like-minded parties not only for the Assembly polls but also for the 2019 Lok Sabha or national elections. More importantly, he said that the Congress is willing to let regional parties take the lead wherever the needs of the coalition so warrant.
On a similar note, Samajwadi Party President and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has said that his party is willing to play second fiddle to Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, BSP, to ensure the BJP’s defeat in next year’s general elections. Asserting that the pre-poll grand alliance, which won the recent by-elections in Uttar Pradesh will continue, Akhilesh Yadav said, the objective is to win elections against the BJP, and for this, his party is ready to ally with the BSP.
BSP Chief Mayawati, on her part, has said that her party is willing to enter into alliances with other opposition parties to defeat the BJP if it gets a respectable share of seats.
Congress in advanced talks with other opposition groups
Reports say that taking the first steps towards forging alliances, senior Congress leaders are already at advanced stages of talks with Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party and Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh; Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party in both Maharashtra and Gujarat; and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in Jharkhand.
The Congress has finalized its alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka, the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar and is confident of taking ahead its alliance with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham in Tamil Nadu, party leaders say.
Apparently, with the Congress and other opposition parties and groups displaying a pragmatic approach, they stand a fair chance of coming up on top in the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh later this year, and the national elections a year from now. But it will not be an easy task. The BJP has a well-oiled and fighting fit election winning machinery, flush with funds, and it will not be easy to outwit the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combine. They are yet to chalk out their strategy to overcome a united opposition. It will be fool handy for the Congress and other opposition parties to write off the BJP and Narendra Modi.