Dim prospects of Opposition unity just now

Brij Bhardwaj

The plan for Mahagathbandhan, an alliance of 0pposition parties, sought to be built up to contest the 2019 elections to prevent division or split of the proposed combined Opposition. appear him The aim is to challenge the perceived “might” of the  BJP and its allies. This  has become a million dollar question.

No ready answers are available at this point of time. But the prospects of a united front of Opposition parties cannot be ruled out in the next few months.  The diverse and at times differing parties, involved in the unity exercise, are often trying to score brownie points against one another.

 

They appear to be in the mood   to test their respective strengths in the coming elections to the five State Assemblies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telengana, Chattisgarh and even Mizoram before taking a final call on their prospects of unity in the final battle of the ballot at the time of the General Elections at the national level.

There is a strong belief that in the absence of an alliance for the elections in  Chattisgarh there could  be a three-cornered contest. But in the case of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the lack of Opposition unity would have a marginal impact. In Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the candidates of the Bahujan Samaj Party or BSP led by Ms. Mayawati will affect the prospects of the BJP as well as Congress. The Congress   could have made considerable gains if BSP had aligned itself with them because in close contests, the  committed voters of BSP could  make   a difference to the results of the polls.

Why did Mayawati decide that  the BSP would  go it alone? There is a strong feeling  that  in an alliance she might have been forced to agree to contest in not many constituencies nor  be a big player  and  have a say in the decision making process. The  BSP hopes and believes that by keeping out of the proposed alliance, it   may be able to get a better deal in the sharing of  seats for the 2019 General Elections, though  there is a danger that it may draw a blank, as was the case in 2014 polls.

 

It is a gamble. Mayawati  feels  she cannot live with it any more. . Her options are not yet final and she may still be able to do some bargaining with the Congress . She is no position  to join hands with the BJP in view  of the  known anti- Dalit stance of the ruling party. She has  kept a window open and expects that she could join hands with the Congress   by  suggesting that Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are  keen to have an alliance with her party , but one Madhya Pradesh Congress leader  sabotaged the move.

There is no doubt that election results in  Rajashan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh could be described as the semi-final for 2019 and will be important. If Congress is able to win the elections in  these States or put up  a credible performance, the prospects of an Opposition alliance for the  Lok Sabha poll sin 2019 will improve. If that does not happen, the prospects of an alliance  or Mahagadhbandhan would be dim, if they could not be ruled out.

 

In that scenario, the Opposition parties would have to live with   tie-ups at the State level only. As such the importance of contests for State Assemblies in the Hindi heartland cannot be
overemphasised. It has been described as the semi-final before the final round of elections in 2019.

There is no doubt that the Opposition parties face problems, but it is certainly no smooth sailing for the BJP. It has suffered and there has been erosion of its vote banks that has hurt its image: it has been forced to order the Minister of State, Mr. M.J. Akbar, to resign from the government.

 

As he had become an embarrassment to the party and the government. With the number of women journalists joining the Metoo movement growing by the day and accusing the Minister of having  used his position  as the Editor of Asian Age and engaging in sexually harassing them.

 

This crisis could not have come   at a worse time when five States are going to the  polls and general elections are only a few months   away. The Modi Government tried hard to stand up to the  pressure built up and brought on the rulers by the journalists’ faternity, but  they   could not ignore the  views of the RSS leadership.

 

The danger from the  women’s lobby  turning against them was an important factor. As such the rulers might feel that for the time being  at least one major issue, which raised questions   of  perceptions, which was turning against  them, has been pushed away from public uproar. But has it been given a   quiet burial. That remains to be seen.

The issues relating to Rafael fight jets’ deal have brought into focus the  charge of crony capitalism  is still alive and kicking. The people  in general  may not understand the finer points relating to the purchase of high cost  aircraft , but have understood  that something wrong has been done  in this important  defence deal.

The crisis on farmers’ front  continues as the Government has tried  to douse  the  fires by raising procurement prices, but that has come too late  to benefit  the farmers  as the machinery to procure grain is not in place benefit the farmers.

 

As such  both sides are working hard to put in place an election machinery  to win the five States first and go for the big battle in 2018. The time for fine tuning the options and preparations has yet to come.

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