Opposition needs two-pronged strategy to defeat Modi in 2019 poll

By Nitya Chakraborty. Dated: 7/7/2018 12:15:35 AM

Preventing division of anti-BJP votes is key to electoral success

With less than ten months left for the holding of the scheduled general elections to the Lok Sabha, the opposition parties led by the Congress have to frame its electoral strategy with insight and pragmatism so that there is a common candidate of the opposition in maximum number of seats. Out of 543 seats of Lok Sabha, all efforts have to be made to ensure one to one fight between the main opposition and the BJP led NDA in about 430 of the 543 seats leaving the remaining 113 seats open for contests among the regional parties and the Congress.
This can be made possible by adopting a two pronged strategy and dividing the states into two categories- first the states where the Congress is the main political party and no strong regional party is present. In these states, the Congress will lead the opposition front by having some understanding with the smaller anti-BJP parties. The Congress will be the natural leader in these states and it will have a major say in the allocation of seats. These states are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and a few states of the North East.
In the second category are the states where the regional parties who are anti-BJP are the ruling parties but the Congress is also fighting for increasing its strength. These states are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Odisha. The regional parties will naturally like to ensure their dominance and they will not allow the Congress to take over their respective political spaces. The Congress has to get reconciled to this reality and in these states, there can be contests between the regional parties and the Congress also, apart from the main enemy BJP, but ways can be found out to see that some adjustments take place in some seats where the BJP candidates are very strong and the divided opposition may facilitate BHP victory. The moot point is that if there is full seriousness that the BJP candidates have to be defeated at all costs, understanding can be arrived at between the Congress and the regional parties in these category two states also.
As of now, the Congress leadership is showing maturity in dealing with the allies and even the smaller parties which were never touched before, are being approached. This is a positive development for strengthening the opposition unity against the NDA led by BJP. It is good that the Congress has at last come to the understanding that the grand old party needs assistance from all anti-BJP forces to fight the formidable BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP has got huge funds and the RSS organization has expanded in the tenure of Narendra Modi as the PM. If this challenge has to be combated, every section of the people who do not like the BJP, has to be mobilized and the Congress leadership has to give respect to all the smaller opposition parties in the course of negotiations.
Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar in a recent interview has put the issue in proper perspective. First, there may not be a total mahagatbandhan before the Lok Sabha elections. The regional parties and the Congress may test their respective strengths in many states. But this opposition alliance has to cover maximum number of Lok Sabha constituencies as possible. Further, the opposition should not talk of a Prime Ministerial candidate before the Lok Sabha poll. Like 2004 LS elections, the candidate will be decided only after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are over. This is the most sensible suggestion and the Congress should accept this. Congress president Rahul Gandhi is the automatic choice of the Congress party for the post of PM but he can not impose himself on the opposition. The decision has to be made on the basis of the strength of the parties after the elections and the consensus of the opposition parties including the Congress. If the Congress fares well, the opposition parties will have no objection in nominating Rahul Gandhi as the PM of the new government but that can not be decided before the poll.
Opposition parties have moved in the recent weeks to form anti-BJP alliance for 2019 Lok Sabha poll and so far discussions have gone well in seven states- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Jammu & Kashmir. Out of these states, UP and Bihar are most important and the positive aspect is that both the SP and the BSP led by Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati respectively, have taken concrete steps to forge a formidable alliance against the BJP for the Lok Sabha poll. The results of the recent by elections in UP have shown that the opposition, once united, can bring down the seats of BJP from the present 71 seats out of 80 to less than 20.
Similarly, in Bihar, the RJD led opposition is having talks with the other parties outside the alliance .Nitish Kumar's relations with BJP are at the lowest ebb now and the JD(U) led by Nitish is on the verge of break up. The RJD led combine is in a pretty good shape and all indications suggest that opposition alliance is set to give a drubbing to the BJP in the coming Lok Sabha poll. The BJP and its allies got 31 out of total of 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar in 2014 elections and it will be a big boost for opposition if both the UP and Bihar send maximum number of opposition candidates in 2019 poll.
It is quite possible that in the abovementioned seven states, the opposition alliance will be in a better position to challenge the BJP and its allies in the coming poll. These states comprise 255 seats in Lok Sabha and the BJP along with its allies got around 162 seats in these states. There will be a big erosion in BJP strength from this number and that is a big comfort to the opposition. The BJP got 282 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha poll due to the BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi's charisma and the disunity of the opposition parties, apart from the UPA mal functioning in the last two years of UPA rule.
That era is over. Modi's four year rule has not brought real relief to the common masses. Divisive forces are running rampant and there is break down of law and order in the BJP ruled states. This is the right time for the Congress and the other opposition to seize the initiative and project a united face to challenge the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If they can really achieve success in maintain this unity and pool the anti-BJP votes in one basket, the defeat of the BJP is certain. But for that, the Congress and the other anti-BJP opposition parties have to act over narrow party interests.
—(IPA Service)



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