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Opposition showing coalition possibilities: Will 2019 see a repetition of 1977?


New Delhi, Nov 21: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in a way taken India to a ride on the time machine. Political developments in the country in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election are making the scenario resembling the one that had prevailed in 1977 when Indira Gandhi was the power centre who everybody else wanted to defeat. The mission was successful with parties and leaders across the spectrum joining hands to topple the Congress from power at the Centre for the first time since Independence.

Opposition showing coalition possibilities: Will 2019 see a repetition of 1977?

However, the coalition that came to power in the wake of the Emergency and fall of Indira Gandhi was short-lived and tumbled out within three years.

Lok Sabha polls 2019: Why a Modi vs Naidu battle is far better than a Modi vs Rahul one

Oppn tie-ups showing possibilities at small scales

Forty-one years since then, political developments across the country are looking similar. Even though the ruling BJP has continued to dominate the electoral scene over the last four years and won a number of states that were once deemed impossible for it to conquer, the Opposition has also made some crucial marks. In between devastating and close losses, the Opposition parties have succeeded in keeping the hope of forming an anti-Modi alliance alive. Possibilities are taking birth on a small scale at different corners of the country (Congress-JDS alliance in Karnataka; SP-BSP tie-up in UP; talks of Congress-NC-PDP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir; Chandrababu Naidu taking a lead in meeting other regional leaders) and it has to be seen whether these possibilities can be turned into major opportunities by the anti-Modi leaders and their outfits.

One major obstacle in the way of the grand alliance could be the regional satraps' personal ambition for power. We have already seen Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee saying after a meeting with Naidu that all members of the alliance are its faces which raises questions over its future conduct. Mayawati, on the other hand, has made it abundantly clear that she is desperate to score points for her own party first (even if that necessitates dumping the Congress) before thinking about the national good. It is very natural for the regional parties to think about their own survival before the pan-Indian developments and that makes the question whether they can present worthy alternatives to Modi even more relevant.

Anti-Indira govt of 1977 did not last long

In 1977, too, India had seen something similar. Once the common mission of getting rid of Indira Gandhi was met, the fissures within the coalition grew and since the alternative to Indira had a number of leaders than one, it did not take long for the internal trouble to snowball. India saw two prime ministers in three years while there were others who could also become holders of the post. The internal chaos and the uncertainty did not take time to lead to the fall of the anti-Indira government and she was back to the helm in 1980 and the Congress back in power for almost another decade. The death of Jayprakash Narayan, the unifier of the anti-Indira forces in 1979, didn't help things either.

Everyone will be the face of Opposition, says Mamata Banerjee after meeting Naidu

The voters of today's India will not accept a repetition of the 1977 act today for a political instability and chaos can be too costly for the nation in terms of economy and peace. The Opposition scrambling for space and face will have to come out with an answer to Modi fast so that its fate doesn't go the way of the Janata government in 1977 if at all it can manage to defeat Modi in 2019. Naidu so far has played the role of the unifier decently and could be an acceptable face of the grand coalition if it materialises. But how much ground will the other ambitious leaders cede?

This is the million dollar question seeking an answer ahead of the general elections of 2019.

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