Mamta-Naidu Meet: Building an Opposition Alliance?

by November 21, 2018 0 comments

Biking an Opposition Alliance, the Mamta-Naidu meet is a step that promotes engaging with Congress.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s nearly two-hour meeting with his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on Monday is significant not only because the Trinamool Congress chief’s original interlocutor in aid of a ‘federal front’ from South India, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, is busy campaigning for the Assembly election in that State and not currently in the thick of Opposition confabulations nationally, but also because it is an attempt by regional leaders to ensure that regardless of immediate priorities in their respective States, there are enough strong regional leaders wedded to the idea of a forming a mahagathbandhan (grand Opposition alliance) to unseat the BJP from power. But while the focus is, naturally, on trying to ensure one-on-one contests against the BJP in upwards of 350 Lok Sabha seats for the 2019 General Election first mooted by Mamata-KCR at their meeting earlier this year, there is also, now that we are approaching the business end of the election cycle, an effort to shore up the alliance between all powerful regional parties so they can negotiate as a single entity the terms on which this grouping will join forces with the only pan-India political party in the Opposition’s ranks, the Congress. That the Congress will have to play a major role in a putative mahagathbandhan is not seriously questioned by any regional player, whatever the public posturing. But, parties like the Trinamool Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Aam Aadmi Party and the like do have genuine concerns about Congress ambitions in their respective States.

The reason for this are not far too seek. Unlike, say, in States such as Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where the DMK, Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance and the Rashtriya Janata Dal are the dominant players in the Opposition space and the Congress seems to have accepted that its renewal will have to be a long-term project, to put it politely, with its immediate concern being limited to ensuring that a handful of their frontline leaders contesting the Lok Sabha poll from these States are assured support by the regional behemoths, in States such as Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Delhi, for example, it believes that its support base is still large enough for it not to have to concede an overwhelming number of seats to the anti-BJP regional parties dominant there. West Bengal, though, with Mamata’s ascendency seemingly unstoppable, seems to have slipped from latter to the former category of States for the Congress. Where the regional parties and the Congress are in concord, however, is on the need to sharpen their line of attack on the ruling dispensation which is trying to paint them as political opportunists out to oust Narendra Modi at any cost. To that end, the Mamata-Naidu meet highlighting the BJP’s alleged undermining of institutions and promotion of the politics of division is likely to be the combined Opposition’s campaign template.

Writer and Courtesy: The Pioneer

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