Due to the expectation of sacrifice from the Congress, it is difficult to achieve unity in the opposition.

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After winning the elections of Himachal and Karnataka, Congress’s plans are on cloud nine. The Congress also realizes that without contesting elections in the states dominated by the BJP as well as the opposition parties, the dream of forming the government at the Center and Rahul Gandhi becoming the Prime Minister cannot be fulfilled.

The opposition parties want the sacrifice of the Congress to take on the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The Congress is well aware of the intention of the opposition parties behind this unity to remain isolated in their respective states. Due to the exercise of this unity, the condition of the opposition parties has become like a well here and a ditch there. Opposition parties are in danger from BJP as well as from Congress. Opposition parties also want to oust the Congress from the electoral fray from the states with their mass base in order to prevent the division of votes in the contest with the BJP. In such a situation, the matter of establishing consensus in the meeting to be held in Patna on June 23 on the call of Nitish Kumar for opposition unity seems to be in trouble.

Significantly, after winning the elections of Himachal and Karnataka, Congress’s plans are on cloud nine. The Congress also realizes that without contesting elections in the states dominated by the BJP as well as the opposition parties, the dream of forming the government at the Center and Rahul Gandhi becoming the Prime Minister cannot be fulfilled. Of course, the Congress has not expressed its ambition openly, but it is clear from its intentions that Rahul Gandhi has to be made the Prime Minister. Opposition parties want that the Congress should focus only on those 200 parliamentary seats where it has a direct fight with the BJP. The Congress is not agreeable to the terms of the opposition. What Mamata is saying on the issue of opposition unity for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Akhilesh and KCR are also saying that wherever the party is strong, it should contest the elections and the rest of the opposition parties should support it. But Congress is not agreeing to this. The Congress knows that there is no strong third party where there is a direct contest with the BJP. That’s why the Congress does not like this bailout of the opposition. In these seats other parties cannot make the contest between Congress and BJP triangular or plural, even if they want to, Congress will never accept the condition of not contesting elections in states based on regional parties.

The Congress wants to contest the 200 Lok Sabha seats on which it has to fight directly with the BJP. Along with this, the Congress is also eyeing seats in those states where regional parties are stronger than the BJP. But the satraps do not want to give place to Congress in their states, because their political base is standing on the land of Congress. From Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, all opposition party leaders want the Congress not to contest elections from states under their influence, so that there is no division of votes in a direct contest with the BJP. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says that we have estimated that the Congress is strong on 200 seats. If Congress wants something good, then at some places sacrifices have to be made. Akhilesh (SP) will have to be given priority in Uttar Pradesh. Mamta also gave the example of other states. He said that in Bengal, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha, priority should be given to the parties having strong hold among the people. If Nitish, Tejashwi and Congress are together in Bihar, they can take a decision.

Opposition parties feel that if Congress becomes strong in their state, then it can increase their concern in future. That’s why the opposition parties want to keep the Congress around only those seats where it has a direct fight with the BJP. The Congress understands that if it wants to regain power at the Center, it will first have to be strong in the states, that is why the Congress is focusing more on the state elections than the opposition unity so that it becomes strong first. If we look at the results of 200 seats being suggested by the opposition to the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP was successful in winning 178 seats. Congress got only 16 seats. 6 seats went to the accounts of others. Earlier in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, out of these 200 seats, BJP managed to win 168 seats and Congress got only 25 seats. Apart from this, 7 seats were won by other parties.

The Congress and the opposition parties have their own objectives. The political base of SP and BSP in UP today is the same as it used to be of Congress. Similarly, Mamta Banerjee is also standing on the ground of Congress in Bengal. Uttar Pradesh is an important place from the point of view of Lok Sabha elections. The road to the chair of Delhi passes through Uttar Pradesh only. The reason for this is that it has the maximum number of 80 Lok Sabha seats. The party which captures more seats will be stronger in forming the government at the center. This is the reason why the Samajwadi Party wants the Congress to stay away from Uttar Pradesh. Under any circumstances, the Congress cannot live without contesting the elections in Uttar Pradesh. Congress’s dream of making Rahul Gandhi the Prime Minister and main participation in the coalition government at the Center cannot be fulfilled without Uttar Pradesh.

Most of the direct contest between Congress and BJP is in the states of North India. Madhya Pradesh (29), Karnataka (28), Rajasthan (25), Chhattisgarh (11), Assam (14), Haryana (11), Himachal (4), Gujarat (26), Uttarakhand (5), Goa (2), Arunachal Pradesh (2), Manipur (2), Chandigarh (1), Andaman and Nicobar (1) and Ladakh (1) have Lok Sabha seats. In this way, there are 162 Lok Sabha seats where the contest is between the Congress and the BJP. At the same time, 38 Lok Sabha seats belong to those states where regional parties are in a strong position, but the contest is with the Congress on these seats. In this list, Punjab has 4 out of 13 seats, Maharashtra 14 out of 48 seats, UP 5 out of 80, Bihar 4 out of 40, Telangana 6 out of 17 and Andhra Pradesh and Kerala 5 seats each.

After Karnataka, assembly elections are now due in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram. If we analyze the voting trends of the Karnataka assembly election results, out of 29 Lok Sabha seats in the state, only BJP has got lead in 4 seats while Congress is leading in 21 seats. The election results of these states will be linked to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. In this way, the picture that will emerge from the results of the assembly elections to be held in 2023, after that the scenario of 2024 elections will be clear and till then the game of checkmate between the opposition parties can continue. Due to the internal threat from the Congress, the efforts of opposition unity in the past also could not reach the end. Due to this tussle for seats, the chances of the meeting in Patna to bring much encouraging results of opposition unity are slim.

– Yogendra Yogi

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