The Mirage of Opposition Unity
The political ambitions of some regional leaders are negatively affecting efforts to forge unity among opposition parties to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the absence of any formidable opposition alliance, elections these days appear to be more a one-sided affair, wherein victory of BJP appears to be highly likely even before a single ballot is cast. If the present trend continues for a few more years, India will become a single party democracy instead of the present multi-party one. Disunity among opposition parties should be regarded as one of the main reasons for such a precarious situation. It appears that the opposition camp is more focused on personal ambitions and have turned the issue of unity into a jigsaw puzzle, which the electorate is finding difficult to crack. For example, during his recent visit to the national capital Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who recently severed ties with BJP, met a host of opposition leaders with the ambition to be projected against Narendra Modi in the 2024 general elections. It is no wonder however, that the Bihar Chief Minister returned empty handed as opposition parties refused to endorse him as their leader. Same was the case with Arvind Kejriwal, K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Mamata Banerjee. All have publicly expressed their desire to be the face of the opposition in the next general elections, only to return with heavy hearts after being snubbed by other parties. If the situation does not change, in all possibility 2024 parliamentary elections will likely see BJP on top again.
Clearly, time is running out for opposition parties to make their presence felt in the national political arena. Every leader in the opposition camp is engulfed in the dream of heading the country without realising that unity among regional parties is a prerequisite to dethrone a strong national party like BJP as Congress has ceased to be an all India party anymore. It is not possible for Mamata, Nitish or anyone else in the opposition camp to fill the void created by the disintegration of the Congress. These parties may halt BJP’s juggernaut once or twice in their home turfs, but they are no match for the saffron brigade at the national level. In an effort to hide their failures in coming together, leaders like Mamata Banerjee have now started talking about post-poll alliance without acknowledging the fact that India’s tryst with such an arrangement has always met with disasters. Moreover, it is almost certain that the electorate will not be much enthused to support such an endeavour when a stable alternative in the form of BJP is available. So, the options for the opposition parties are limited, they must form a strong and stable coalition or perish. It appears that the second option will become a reality soon, as opposition leaders appear to be more interested in building castles in the air, than burying their personal ambitions to garner strength.