The BJP has provided an Opposition that was decimated in 2014 a chance to resurrect itself
It would have taken a lot of political courage for Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naiduto have risked potentially antagonising his party cadre brought up on a diet of anti-Congressism to descend on the Capital in an attempt to consolidate anti-BJP political forces. Yet, that’s exactly what he has been doing over the past week. From Congress president Rahul Gandhi and veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad to Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah to old Opposition war-horse Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (United), Naidu has engaged with them all with a sense of purpose. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav too has landed in the Capital for grand alliance discussions and this comes on top of Naidu’s previous outreach to Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, BSP chief Mayawati, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and DMK leader MK Stalin with all of whom he has already had preliminary discussions. That Chandrababu Naidu, smarting from his humiliation at the hands of the BJP, has emerged as the mover and shaker in Opposition unity efforts is clear. Pawar, though senior and with great relationships across the political spectrum, is not completely trusted by the Congress while the other leaders, especially those from the Hindi belt, have angularities which tend to rub other leaders the wrong way. Naidu, by contrast, is from a southern State and is not seen as a challenger for a pan-India leadership position.
His main task, he is known to have confided in associates, is to ensure that the differences between a weak but still national footprint-bearing Congress and the powerful regional satraps who hold dominant sway in their States do not become an insurmountable obstacle in the forging of a grand alliance of Opposition parties against the ruling combine. The argument, promoted assiduously by the BJP/NDA and those simpatico, that the Opposition is desperate, fighting for its survival and is busy cobbling together an ‘unprincipled, opportunistic alliance’ to stop the Modi juggernaut, is a bit facile. For, even assuming it to be the gospel truth which it is not, the point which needs consideration is who and what has given these Opposition parties the opportunity to try and forge an anti-BJP front even if at a cost to ideological coherence and sacrifice of party interests?
The answer is rather obvious but bears repetition. The Modi-helmed BJP, in trying to turn back the decades and fashion itself a la Indira Gandhi Congress as the main pole of Indian electoral politics, may have overplayed its hand. It has not only spooked its own erstwhile — and some current — allies, Chandrababu Naidu being a prime example, but has also planted the seed of deep suspicion among its opponents many of whom its earlier generation of leaders including AB Vajpayee, LK Advani, MM Joshi had worked with over decades to make them shed their inhibitions in aligning with the BJP against a then rampant Congress. In a sense, the BJP leadership is going for the Great Gamble, the knight in shining armour against a rag-tag band of all the rest, as it were. But the implosion in our country’s institutions coming on top of the BJP’s unbridled aggression in promoting community-centric discourses nationwide, including in States where it wants to grow such as Kerala and West Bengal, has helped its opponents immeasurably in focussing their minds on the pressing need for unity.
Writer: The Pioneer
Source: The Pioneer