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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Will Opposition Unity Come To A Damp Squib ?

As the heat and dust of the 2019 campaign begins to settle, various permutations and combinations have begun to emerge before the actual results on the 23rd May, 2019. No political party wants to be left behind, particularly the regional players who see themselves as important players in government formation.

Two regional satraps from the South of the Vindhyas are making desperate attempts to cobble together an alliance to be in a pole position if no national party gets a majority. One such so called non Congress and non BJP  formation which is rather ambitiously vying for the top spot in Delhi is the KCR lead federal front.

KCR has been relentlessly trying to get the main regional players together in the hope that if there is a hung parliament they could emerge as key players. KCR has been eyeing Mamta’s Trinamul, Patnaik’s BJD , Stalin’s DMK apart from the  Akhilesh-Mayawati SP-BSP alliance in UP.  His neighbour in Andhra  Chandrababu has also being trying relentlessly to get on to the centre stage and somehow strike an alliance of regional players and the Congress against the BJP.  It is another matter though that he has not been able to get KCR’s TRS on the same page and TDP’s overtures towards TRS were rebuffed by the latter.

Thus, even though both regional players want a pie in Delhi they are unable to unite and therein lies an inherent contradiction in all opposition parties as to many parallel efforts are going simultaneously without any coherent result. KCR could very easily roll the other way if his party is given a plum cabinet birth and if the NDA were to fall a little short of numbers. While Chandrababu wants Congress to be a part of its post poll alliance, KCR has an idea of a federal front that excludes the two main opposition parties.

Chandababu Naidu is feeling the heat on his home turf and is facing stiff opposition from his adversity Jagamohan Reddy of the YSR. All his efforts to make a mark at the Centre could come to a cropper if he is defeated at home in the simultaneous assembly elections being held in Andhra.

While the opposition in the South is riddled with many contradictions and conflicts, the scene is no better in the north of Vindhyas. The SP-BSP combine are hoping for a sizeable chunk of seats in UP and if that hope sustains on the 23rd May, they will demand their pound of flesh in a fractured mandate. SP, BSP and Congress have been at loggerheads and it will be interesting to see how and what kind of understanding they arrive at.

For the moment the two bitter adversaries turned friends of the largest state which sends 80 seats to the lok sabha are hanging together but a clear mandate for the ruling party could bring an early end to this opportunistic alliance. Ofcourse all these permutations and combinations of the regional players at work are deriving oxygen on the premise that the NDA will fall short of the 272 mark and their combined aggregate will be enough to have a shot at government formation with outside support.

But this could be a wishful thinking by the regional players as we have seen the fate of Congress supported governments at the Centre and their premature demise. Governments of Deva Gowda, Chandrashekhar and I K Gujral are a case in point. There is no denying of the fact that any combination of regional parties will have to count on the support of the Congress for government formation in case of a hung parliament as their numbers will not even be half of 272. For the Congress to emerge in a king maker’s role, the oldest national party will have to turn out a stellar performance and equal if not better than its performance of 2004 when it won 145 seats.

But the Congress and the UPA would be hoping to be in the seat of power themselves and would be eyeing some regional players for support. However, all these calculations will remain in the realm of conjecture if the BJP and the NDA were to be near the 240 mark as then they would be within striking distance of retaining power with Modi at the helm.

For all the opposition combined to have any realistic chance of forming the government, they have to hope that the NDA falls short of 225 as only then their various permutations and combinations would come into play, otherwise it would all come to a damp squib.

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Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine


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