Saturday, March 25, 2023

Repellent opposition

With May 2024 elections approximately 400 days away, the dream of opposition unity appears to be bedevilled by insurmountable egos and ideological differences despite the fact that all political parties accept that it is the only way to check the unstoppable BJP juggernaut. Till today, all the opposition parties – Congress, CPI, CPM, JD(U), SS (UBT), RJD, DMK, JMM, AAP, TMC, NCP, IUML, VCK, Kerala Congress etc- have not even sat down together leave alone talk of strategy. Even in the recent parliament session, the TMC and the NCP did not join opposition parties in the protest march to the office of the Enforcement Directorate against the misuse of the agency by the BJP to target opposition leaders. TMC did not sign a joint opposition letter sent to the Director of Enforcement Directorate, SK Mishra, urging the probe agency to initiate an investigation into the Adani Group over allegations of corrupt practices, including money laundering through shell companies. It also did not participate in the opposition march to the ED office. The letter was signed by leaders of Congress, CPI, CPM, JD(U), SS (UBT), RJD, DMK, JMM, AAP, IUML, VCK, Kerala Congress and others. The Opposition’s march to the ED office was stopped by the police at Vijay Chowk and they returned to the Parliament complex. TMC and NCP who have been active in taking on the Centre over the roles of the governor and the misuse of ED, stayed away and did not participate. TMC floor leaders disclosed that the core reason for their non-participation was Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Choudhury’s remarks against Mamata Banerjee in Bengal . Earlier eight political parties wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the government at the centre of misusing the seat of the Governor and central agencies to target the opposition parties and their leaders, which has transitioned the country from being a democracy to an autocracy. Among the Opposition leaders who were the signatories of the letter included BRS president and Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, JKNC chief Farooq Abdullah, AITC chief Mamata Banerjee, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. However, there was no representation from Congress, JDS, JD (U), CPU, CPM in the letter. These are clear indications that the opposition has failed to achieve even a minimum of understanding for a broad-based national coalition. On the other hand, the AAP has begun campaigning in Madhya Pradesh against BJP and Rajasthan against Congress. On the other hand, Mamata is leading an initiative to forge an alliance of regional parties in all the states against the BJP and Congress. She has sealed the deal with former UP chief minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. The will form an alliance in UP and West Bengal. The strategy is that Mamata’s TMC will be the dominant partner in West Bengal and will offer some seats to SP for those who are not from TMC but who want to contest as SP candidates in the state. Similarly the same can will apply in UP where aspiring candidates who are not from SP can contest as TMC candidates. Congress needs to honestly and humbly reassess itself in every state, instead demanding top spot on the strength of having a pan-India reach and doing nothing to stop its free fall.

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