Opposition unity against Modi govt: Are anti-BJP forces building castles in the air?
New Delhi, May 28: Last week, during the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru, the Opposition sent a strong message to the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
In a show of strength and unity, top leaders of almost all the major opposition parties (mostly the regional ones) came together in the IT hub and formally kick-started their joint campaign against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime at the Centre for the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The unity of a motley group of political parties, a few of which were with the BJP till recently but had bitter breakup over disagreements, has got mixed responses. While those who support the idea that the joint Opposition can only defeat the BJP in the General elections (likely to take place in April-May next year) welcomed the coming together of all the "anti-BJP forces", the BJP has mostly mocked at its rivals by calling their attempts "unholy" and "opportunistic".
As the BJP has been on a winning spree, capturing one state after another in a series of elections held in the last four years, the Opposition, especially the Congress, has been pushed to the margins. Under such circumstances, some of the top leaders of the opposition parties in an attempt to save their future have no other option but to stitch an alliance, despite their own contradictions and ideologies.
The formula that a joint Opposition can defeat the BJP first took shape in a concrete manner in Uttar Pradesh in March when the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) joined hands during the Lok Sabha bypolls. The coming together of the former political rivals paid rich dividends as two important Lok Sabha seats--Gorakhpur and Phulpur--earlier held by Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Maurya-- were won by SP candidates supported by the BSP.
Then in Karnataka recently, the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) alliance managed to thwart the BJP's attempts to form the new government after the state Assembly elections, which saw a series of dramatic events.
These two major political developments have given hope to the opposition parties that if they stay together they could manage to defeat the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Now, the question is that whether or not the unity among the "anti-BJP forces" will last till the next year.
The comment made by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) minister Kalava Srinivasulu on Sunday that Congress president Rahul Gandhi is not acceptable to the party as the prime ministerial candidate of a "united front" in case it comes into being before the 2019 polls showcases that a lot of differences need to be ironed out if the opposition parties want to fight the BJP.
Senior BJP leader and Bihar deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi on Sunday said that the Opposition unity during the swearing-in ceremony of Kumaraswamy was nothing but attempts on the part of the "anti-BJP forces" to build castles on sand.
"Karnataka mein shapath grahan ke dauran jin logon ne ekta ka pradarshan karne ka prayas kiya tha wo bhurbhuri zameen par ret ka mahal banane jaisa prayaas hai (During the swearing-in ceremony in Karnataka recently, those who showcased unity simply attempted to build castles on sand)," Bihar deputy CM said at an event in Patna, indicating that the Opposition unity has a very weak foundation and won't last for long.
Taking a dig at the Congress, Modi added that the grand old party can't live without power. "It once ruled the nation but is now confined to three-four states. Wo kshetriya dalon ki poonch pakadkar satta tak pahuchna chahti hai (The Congress wants to grab power by holding the tail of the regional parties). The Congress is scared of Narendra Modi and went down to 78 from 122 seats in Karnataka and is celebrating as if they have won," Modi was quoted as saying by ANI.
"The DMK, the AIADMK, the TDP and others who were in power with the BJP at some point of time...when they came with the BJP they said they were forming the government with the BJP in the interest of the nation. When they have to oppose the BJP they said they were opposing in the name of secularism," he added.
Prime Minister Modi in Cuttack, Odisha on Saturday said that the Opposition unity was a drama to save corrupt leaders.
Only time will tell what kind of role the opposition parties will play in the coming days. Till then, the unity among them looks intact and the BJP seems to be little nervous about it.