The stature of the Bharatiya Janata Pary, which grew in the environment of non-Congressism, is intimidating its allies. So, hardcore anti-Congress parties are trying to achieve Opposition unity. At the same time, some regional parties are assessing the environment. However, due to the BJP’s growing popularity and its monopolistic temperament, Opposition parties are making up their minds to unite with the Congress under Rahul Gandhi. In Madhya Pradesh, Mayawati spoke in a very aggressive manner but helped in fulfilling the Congress’ dream. Her speech hides the crux of Opposition unity.
The fact is that both the national parties, the BJP and the Congress, have a predatory temperament vis-a-vis regional parties. That is why Bahenji showed the mirror to the Congress. The BSP also understood that, after a very close contest, one of the two giants will definitely hunt its MLAs in Madhya Pradesh. So, she made a virtue out of necessity. The difficult decision made by Mayawati reflects the acceptance of the leadership of Gandhi shown by top-notch leaders of various parties. It happened just two days before her speech at the meeting held in Delhi for Opposition unity. When Rahul Gandhi was issuing statement in the media Sharad Pawar was right next to him whereas Arvind Kejriwal and Mamta Banerjee were on his left and right. By not becoming a part of this event of Opposition unity, Mayawati and Akhilesh tried to show her strength and his compulsion, respectively. With the SP-BSP's warning-cum-support, Opposition unity does not seem to work well at the moment.
The real problem here actually is the fight between the aspirations of regional parties and the expansionist tendency of national parties. Regional parties are also born because of this conflict. This is also the reason for the selfcentred attitude of these parties. These parties are dependent on the Central government for all sort of financial support. That is that regional parties do not come in the do-or-die battle till they feel danger to their existence, the noises about protecting democracy notwithstanding. This is also the reason that the BJP is facing problems with alliance partners, some of whom have left and are now with the grand old party. But there are some important questions here: Is the BJP an alternative to the GOP? Or is it merely a political front designed to meet the goals of RSS? The BJP reached from two seats to 282 seats in the Lok Sabha on the basis of propriety, collective leadership, and the branding that it is a party with a difference. Along with the front-line leaders like Lal krishna Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Murli Manohar Joshi, the party could boast politicians with scholarly background and mass base. So, it would not be proper to attribute the victory of 2014 was entirely to the Ram Temple movement and aggressive Hindutva. The results of elections in the five states show that the people are not really enamored with the BJP’s so-called core issues.
The RSS, however, will blame the modus operandi of the Modi-Shah duo. But by giving the complete power to the duo for ruling and controlling the party, the Sangh has been successful only in triple talaq. The entire earlier leadership of BJP, which worked hard for years to make it so powerful, is now part of the mentoring board. Not just the old guard but the idealism associated with the saffron party is also missing. Gandhian socialism, integral humanism, etc., are little more than slogans. Thus, while the chances of the present government comign back in 2019 are not very bright, the Opposition’s path too is not easy. Bickering over seat sharing will be there. Yet, coalition against the government is actually an imperative of democracy and compulsion for small parties. Playing tricks with alliance partners will prove very costly to the GOP. For the BJP led by Modi-Shah may have been hurt but not defeated. It needs to be mentioned here that the intense propaganda on Rafale did not undermine the BJP much, otherwise the Congress would have also done very well in urban areas.
The actual factors responsible for the defeat of BJP in the three states are: demonetisation, farm crisis, poor execution of the GST regime, and lack of jobs. The Congress has benefited from this situation, making regional parties wary. Therefore, the GOP needs to show a big heart in the areas where regional parties are strong. Amongst these UP, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu are important for Opposition unity. There are about 301 Lok Sabha seats in these seven states. The biggest difficulty is in UP. Although Mayawati has given support in MP and Rajasthan, the Congress’ seat sharing with the SP-BSP will be a contentious issue. Then there is also Ajit Singh’s party. Dispute between the Congress and these parties will harm the coalition and benefit the BJP. In Bihar, the RJD has made the roadmap clearer for the mega-coalition; the RLSP of Upendra Kushwaha also seems keen to join it. Most interestingly, after the recent setback to the BJP and a growing Mahagathbandhan, even its ally JDU has started throwing tantrums. Sharad Yadav is playing the role of the facilitator of Opposition unity.
The resistance to any ordinance on the Temple has been announced. In Andhra Pradesh, the Congress may get some benefit from the TDP but that didn’t the GOP in Telangana? In West Bengal, Mamta Banerjee refuses to warm up to the Congress. She is also perfectly against the Left. At the same time, polarization in the state has become so intense that the BJP is confident of doing well here and in the Northeast. It appears that the BJP and Trinamool Congress will gain from polarization. In Assam, though, there can be problems due to displeasure of Asom Gana Parishad regarding the National Citizen Register. Sharad Pawar, who rebelled against the GOP and formed the Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra, now stands with the Congress. The BSP, Bahujan Vikas Agahadi, the CPM, the Republican Party of India (Ambedkar and Gavai) are also likely to join the grand alliance. The Shiv Sena, on the other hand, fought in the by-elections in Palghar alone and suffered. At any rate, it has a love-hate relationship with the BJP.
Swabhimani Shetkari Dal can also leave the BJP and join the alliance. However, by acceding to the demand of Maratha reservation, the BJP government of the state hopes to do well in 2019. In Tamil Nadu also, DMK is in the favor of the grand alliance, while AIDMK is with the NDA. But the BJP should not have high hopes from the public of Tamil Nadu who elect the DMK and AIADMK alternately. Then there is the Rajinikanth factor. At the same time, Kamal Haasan can be the savior of the alliance in the region. Opposition unity is being premised on the slogan of democracy and non BJPism.
However, in the era of nonCongressism in 1967, both the Jana Sangh and communists had come together in the coalition. Likewise, they gave direct and indirect support to V.P. Singh's National Front. But there is no such possibility in the present scenario. Self-interest is more important. Before joining any of the two national parties, smaller parties are weighing pro and cons. It is, however, the common man who will be fighting against the Modi government. He has to play the role of Lord Krishna in Mahabharat 2019. Opposition parties are merely weapons in his hands.