rocky road to opposition unity

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Before the 2024 general elections, efforts for opposition unity have started once again in the country. On June 23, leaders of more than 15 opposition parties united in Patna on the invitation of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The special thing is that Congress President and former President Rahul Gandhi also participated in this meeting of opposition unity. No concrete result came out of the three-hour meeting, but this meeting succeeded in giving the message of opposition unity to the countrymen.

In the joint press briefing after the meeting, except for Kejriwal and Stalin, all other leaders vowed that they would fight the elections unitedly against Prime Minister Modi to bring about a regime change in the country in 2024. But the kind of differences and differences prevailing among the opposition parties, and exposed before and after the meeting, it seems that the path of opposition unity is not easy. A major obstacle and hindrance in opposition unity is the attitude of the Aam Aadmi Party.

There are reports of heated exchanges between the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress in the meeting. On the other hand, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah reminded Kejriwal of Article 370. When this special provision was repealed in Parliament, Kejriwal supported the decision of the Modi government. Mehbooba Mufti also asked the same question. Trinamool Congress President Mamta Banerjee objected to the political attitude of the Congress in Bengal and protesting. Kejriwal’s AAP later clarified in a statement that if the Congress did not clear its stand on the ordinance, the party’s two chief ministers—Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann—would not attend such meetings of the opposition. However, these are few examples, which question the reality of opposition unity, but in spite of these all opposition parties, except AAP, are in favor of contesting the 2024 general elections by mobilizing under one umbrella.

Along with this, many complex issues will need to be resolved now to instill confidence in the voters. However, the efforts of opposition unity have just started and there will be a need to bring harmony in the states regarding various political parties. There are about 200 to 250 seats in the Lok Sabha elections where there is a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress. If the Congress is not strong in that direct fight, then there is no point in opposition unity. In such a situation, the strong position of the Congress and the effort of the opposition parties to form a strong alliance with the Congress is a serious effort.

Leaders of parties like Biju Janata Dal, Bharat Rashtra Samithi, YSR Congress, Telugu Desam Party, BSP, Janata Dal-S, INLD, Akali Dal, Muslim League, Kerala Congress, RLP, RSP, Akali Dal-Mann etc. participated in this meeting of opposition unity. did not turn up and most were not even invited. There are 68 MPs from these parties in the current parliament. These parties are neither pro-Congress nor anti-BJP. These parties do not even have such equations that they can form a third front. However, some parties may become part of the NDA with the BJP or form some other political equation.

According to political analysts, it is not that easy to remove the BJP, which registered massive victories in the 2014 and 2019 general elections, because the strength of the opposition parties, especially the Congress, has decreased in recent years. Although, for the first time in recent years, all the opposition parties, including the Congress, converged in Patna, but a lot remains to be done to resolve the differences. Differences remain between the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, especially on the issue of the central government’s ordinance on the powers of the Delhi government. Which cannot be called a good sign regarding the efforts of opposition unity. Whose good message will never go to the general public. Today only his old allies are not with BJP, neither Nitish Kumar nor Akali Dal is with him. Uddhav is not with them. He has completely broken Shiv Sena. All these episodes have forced the regional parties to think today. But it is certain that if elections are held in Bengal, how will seat sharing happen between Mamta and Congress, what will be its form?

At the same time, there are difficulties regarding the distribution of seats. AAP in Delhi and Punjab, Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, NCP-Shiv Sena (Thackeray) in Maharashtra, Samajwadi Party in UP are in no mood to give much importance to Congress. The Allies intend to give less than half the seats in the Lok Sabha to the Congress. Congress and NCP have been contesting elections together in Maharashtra till now. But now after coming together with Shiv Sena (Uddhav faction), Congress will also have to give up its seats. Similarly, in Bihar, half a dozen parties have to fight together against the BJP. RJD and JDU are sure to get more seats in the Lok Sabha in Bihar. In such a situation, it will be interesting to see how many seats come in the account of Congress, CPI, CPM and CPI(ML). Will the Congress, which single-handedly won Karnataka, agree to this? In the Patna meeting, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress Party could not agree on the issue of opposition to the central government’s ordinance, but this cannot completely dismiss the efforts of unity.

For the opposition parties, the face against Brand Modi is a big issue that who will be the face instead of the face. BJP is also raising the same question. But we should not forget the 2004 election when on one side Atal ji had a big face, but on the other side there was no big face of the opposition. But the public had voted on the issue forgetting the face. In such a situation, it is possible that the opposition may bring its face or it may go to the issue without bringing its face. The question is also whether the opposition will be able to come together after ending the contradiction or not?

There is no doubt in this that sooner or later the efforts of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar seem to be paying off. Right now the most important decision has to be taken that how a single, common candidate of the opposition can be fielded on one seat. Mamta and Akhilesh Yadav are expecting the Congress to show big heart. Do not insist on fielding your candidates in these two big states. How is this possible? Regional parties have their own ambitions.

There is no doubt that a strong opposition is essential for a healthy democracy in the country. If the opposition is strong in the country, then efforts to curb the autocratic behavior of the ruling party will be successful. It can be said that there are still many tests left for the opposition unity. It is also a fact that no concrete decisions came out in the Patna meeting. But the need for further dialogue was emphasized. The holding of the next meeting in Shimla is an extension of these efforts for the unity of the opposition. At present, the initiative taken by the opposition is positive, a small step, but the road to a conclusion is still long and winding. Now all eyes are on the meeting to be held in Shimla.

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