Beaten and bruised after the BJP stormed Uttar Pradesh, the opposition parties have decided to come forward and challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The grand alliance comprising almost all parties have decided to fight the 2019 elections unitedly to beat the Modi-Amit Shah led BJP.
Brain storming sessions have been held after the UP elections and it was decided that the only way to stop the Modi juggernaut is stand united and fight him. While in principle, all the parties in the opposition have decided to come together, they are yet to decide on a consensus candidate to lead this grand alliance.
Let us take a look at who could lead this alliance.
Nitish Kumar has already indicated that any grand alliance must be led by his party, the JD-U. This would effectively mean that he is a front-runner for the post of prime minister. He had successfully managed to keep the BJP away in Bihar after he forged the grand alliance with the RJD.
He has no feather up his cap except the fact that he leads the oldest party in the country, the Congress. The Congress would insist that he leads the coalition, but it is unlikely that the rest would agree, considering his poor track record in winning elections.
The most unlikely candidate to lead the coalition. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been trying to emerge as a national leader, but has failed to keep up the Delhi tempo in both Goa and Punjab. He shares a good relationship with most leaders such as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar and the leaders in the Left.
The chief minister of West Bengal. She has strong mass support and is a firebrand leader not afraid to speak her mind. She has experience at the Centre and is capable of winning big in West Bengal even in 2019. She could be one of the front-runners to lead the coalition. However, her appeal is restricted to West Bengal alone and this could be a dampener for her.
The three-time chief minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik is non-controversial and acceptable to the coalition. He would have to, however, consolidate his position after recent set-backs in the local elections for him to stake a claim to be the man who can stop Modi.
A strong contender to the post, but the drubbing in the recent Uttar Pradesh assembly elections 2017 has weakened her position. However, with a vote share of 22 per cent in the UP polls, she could still make a pitch to lead the coalition.
Mulayam Singh Yadav
When all fail, Mulayam comes into the picture. He could be a consensus candidate. The going has not been exactly good for him -- on the election and family front. However he has a record of bouncing back.