A Broken Opposition
Dumping the initiative of uniting against the ruling party, the opposition parties are presently at loggerheads against each other. While Mamata Banerjee, the maverick leader of All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), is attacking the Congress at the slightest provocation, Sonia Gandhi & Co. is sparing no effort to corner the firebrand leader from Bengal by not inviting her party to any opposition meet. On its part, AITC is going alone after the idea of floating an alliance without the Congress, being rejected by parties like Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). As the opposition parties are not in a mood to iron out the differences through negotiations, the situation is highly encouraging for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), especially when five crucial Assembly elections are slated to be held next year.
Clearly, time is running out for the opposition parties to pose a serious challenge to BJP in the coming Assembly elections. Despite the electoral arithmetic strongly favouring an opposition alliance, the chances of forming such an alliance is bleak to say the least. Until some dramatic changes take place at the eleventh hour, Uttar Pradesh is all set to witness a four-cornered contest in the coming elections. Three major political parties having presence in the state have ruled out any possibility of alliance formation. Last time, it was a three-cornered contest with the Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP) forging an alliance. Notwithstanding the alliance, BJP captured more than 300 seats in a house of 405 seats. Thus, a four-cornered contest will be more helpful to BJP to retain power in the state. In both Goa and Manipur, the opposition parties got more seats than BJP; but could not form the government as BJP managed to woo the non-Congress regional parties, proving that opposition unity is prerequisite to dethrone BJP.
Notwithstanding such a tailor-made situation for an opposition alliance, quite strangely the parties seem to be more interested in clinching the leadership issue first before shaping up the alliance. Mamata Banerjee is busy projecting herself as an alternative to BJP. On the other hand, a number of opposition parties including Shiv Sena, NCP and DMK are supporting Rahul Gandhi as the face of the opposition. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is also in favour of the Congress. But without retreating even after facing such reverses, Mamata is continuing her tirade against the Congress by holding the party responsible for the rise of BJP in Indian politics. In response, the Congress is alleging that the West Bengal Chief Minister is actually helping BJP by scuttling the move to forge opposition unity.
As the opposition parties continue to quarrel over leadership issues, the electorate are left with very few choices. From this perspective, it is clear that the opposition parties are failing to perform their duties towards the electorate and in the process conceding the electoral battle even before its commencement. It is high time for the opposition parties to understand the ground reality and chalk out future plans leaving personal ambitions behind, if they want to check the progress of BJP’s electoral juggernaut.