Saturday, September 30, 2023

Opposition in ‘We Can Win’ mood

Himalayan Paths

Dr Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao

The June 12th meeting of the opposition parties, happening in the back drop of Karnataka Congress victory, is a significant one, as the opposition is in a upbeat mood despite some hiccups here and there. For the first time after 2014 the opposition is exhibiting a mood of positivity and the statements coming from various leaders belonging to many parties are quite combating and confidence filled. One major change in the mood of the opposition camp is due to the mellowed Congress attitude. It is no more making statements of leadership of opposition but exhibiting pragmatic moves of reconciliation to set aside its arrogance of insistence on Rahul Gandhi the leaders.

The buoyancy and confidence for the opposition emanated from the lead taken by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his round of talks with all the prominent opposition leaders including the pro-Modi CM and BJD leader Naveen Patnaik. The persuading power of Nitish galvanised at least a dozen parties to the scheduled Patna meeting. By all indications Patna meet of opposition is significant move for the formulation of moves to take on Modi. The main party to organise the meet, JDU, is so confident of Bihar being the epicentre of anti Modi movement just as it was in early seventies when the Total Revolution movement led by Jayapraksh Narain ultimately ousted then powerful leader Indira Gandhi from power. There is another similarity at the slogans being coined then and now. Fifty years ago it was Indira Hatao slogan, now it is Modi Hatao. At that time BJP is part of anti-Indira, anti-Congress platform now the place of BJP is taken up by Congress. The other difference being that in the JP lead conclaves the number of opposition parties are limited whereas Nitish lead conclave is attracting quite a number of opposition parties. To counter the Congress Mukth Bharat slogan of BJP the JDU leaders now talk of “making India BJP free”. Senior JDU minister Sanjay Jha is confident of achieving their goal.

Very idea of opposition coming under one umbrella itself is an achievement as such a possibility was not sight before the Karnataka victory. Not that this is the first victory in Assembly pole for Congress. It had won Himachal Pradesh earlier but that victory is not savoured because of huge loss in Gujarat. Coming from that low, the victory in Karnataka, the gateway for the southern entry for BJP, is certainly so sweet. Congress having thrown out BJP in Karnataka is now confident of repeating the same in Madhya Pradesh. It is also hopeful of retaining Chattisghad and Rajasthan. Observers say that its dream of retaining Rajasthan may not be realised unless the revolt of Sachin Pilot is neutralised.

BJP itself is quite busy in offering the issues for the opposition unity, the latest being Centre’s issuance of ordinance nullifying the Supreme Court judgement on the elected government supremacy in Delhi on the bureaucracy postings. Aravind Kejrival who won the legal case is currently meeting all the opposition CMs to get the support and is getting that from all parties. The way the BJP handled the women wrestlers’ complaint against the wrestling association president and incidentally its own MP is another unifier for the opposition. The opponents are happily grabbing the given opportunities to take their unity cause further.

Despite the helping hand from the BJP, the unity of opposition is not taking concrete shape because of the inherent differences among them. Congress party certainly adds strength for the opposition camp at the same time remaining as an obstacle for the unity among the parties. Congress has not sorted out its differences with many regional parties. The AAP, newest national party, TMC, the one which lost the national party label and BRS, the self-declared national party are not in tune with the Congress. Besides the SP, the main opposition party in UP, is not fully in favour of Congress revival in UP.

The Congress units of Punjab and Delhi are not in favour of helping AAP in its fight against the Centre on the ordinance issue. The Bengal unit of Congress is cautioning its party on its association with TMC and its leader Mamata Banerjee. Immediately after the Karnataka victory, Mamata Banerjee made overtures to work with Congress but suddenly she changed her mind and inducted the lone Congress MLA in the state into TMC. Bayron Biswas who won the by-election from Sagardighi constituency with the help of Left parties shifted his alliance towards TMC, thus angering the CPM. That defection brings the Bengal assembly to the 2021 position of not having Congress and CPM members, thus keeping BJP as the main opposition.

Offended Congress is now sending wrong signals to other parties by keeping in suspense regarding the participation of its top leader in the Patna meet. With the indications of Congress chief Mallikarjuna Kharge and its hereditary leader Rahul Gandhi not coming to Patna meet the entire effort of Bihar CM Nitish is brought to naught. However the other opposition parties are enthusiastic about the meet and are confident of challenging Modi with whatever resources they have. The NCP leader Sharad Pawar, the senior most politician in the country, confirming his participation is adding strength in designing strategy. The Left parties, the DMK, SP, RJD, JMM are all enthusiastic as they see this as the best time to defeat BJP.

The opposition is convinced of the anti-BJP mood of people despite the national surveys projecting pro-Modi mood of the nation. Whatever the situation may be in the field the positivity in the camp is necessary for the preparation and effective fight in the election. That positivity is now visible in anti-BJP parties and how far this move galvanises into serious action remains to be seen and the scheduled Patna meet will throw some light on the sails of opposition.

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