Opinion: Stumbling Mahagathbandhan

Written By: Kartikeya Sharma
Delhi, India Published: Aug 09, 2018, 05:24 PM(IST)

Leaders of Opposition parties pose for a picture at Sonia Gandhi's residence 10 Janpath in New Delhi on March 13. Photograph:( ANI )

Story highlights

The victory shows that the idea of Grand Alliance will only remain on papers and talk shows. The fault line within the Opposition is far more deeper than what exist within NDA.

Harivansh Narayan Singh’s victory in Rajya Sabha is both symbolic and substantive. He is the first non-Congress deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha in 41 years. The last non-Congress deputy chairman was from Samyukta Socialist Party, Godey Murahari, who served in the position from April 26, 1974 to March 20, 1977. 

Harivansh Singh was a stellar journalist, socialist by orientation and is honest to the core. Despite intense animosity between Congress and BJP, Harivansh will be able to walk the line in Rajya Sabha. He is an outsider and does not come with political baggage. It will allow him elbow room which hard political candidates lack because of mistrust and pre conceived notion.

A case in point is deteriorating relationship between Venkaiah Naidu and the Opposition.

His victory is also very substantive as it proves that the Opposition unity is still a myth today. BJD, TRS and AIADMK voted for BJP-JD-U candidate. Harivansh also ended up getting four independent votes in Rajya Sabha. 

The victory shows that the idea of Grand Alliance will only remain on papers and talk shows. The fault line within the Opposition is far more deeper than what exist within NDA.

BJP for time will show no discomfort in accommodating TRS, AIADMK and BJD, and can go in for a tactical retreat in the four states to buffer numbers post Lok Sabha elections. Congress on the other hand can neither accommodate TRS nor BJD nor ignore the challenge. These are the states where Congress is trying aggressively to revive itself. 

Rajya Sabha elections also show that Opposition will not be able to tackle Modi as one block. There will be state specific alliances throughout India barring Uttar Pradesh where 4 main opposition parties, SP, BSP, INLD and Congress will take on BJP together. Barring UP, all other states will see triangular to alliance led direct contest.

Another complication is that Mayawati is demanding a package deal from Congress, which may not be possible as both Rajasthan and Haryana units are opposed to any tie-up with BSP. 

Similarly Delhi unit of Congress is opposed to any tie-up with AAP.  Even in Maharashtra, either the fight will be triangular or in alliance with NCP. Similarly in Telangana, West Bengal Odisha, Kerala, Jharkhand and Assam, it will be a multi cornered contest. Only Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and MP will see a direct two-way fight.

Congress leaders may have made up their mind to oust BJP at any cost but workers in the state may not be on the same page. Regional parties in India have evolved in Opposition to the Congress be it DMK, SAD, BSP, AGP, SP, TMC, SS, JD-U or RJD. TRS a former Congress ally became the largest party because Congress could not manage the division of Andhra Pradesh properly.

These contradictions will not allow a Grand Alliance to shape up. Smaller regional parties in past have cooperated with the party in power. It is for this reason, UPA survived various trust votes.

The fault lines in Opposition indicate that ideological cohesion does not exist. The opposition is built on evicting Modi based on performance evaluation. It is not to say that Modi is invincible or can never be defeated or has an advantage in 2019 elections. The fact is that BJP’s electoral message has already reached people and Congress and regional parties are yet to iron out there electoral arrangements. Congress will have to offer more than Mahagathbandhan to win the election. 

Hope in 1977 was to teach a lesson to those effected democracy, In 1989 the hope was to expose the dealers of Bofors. In 2014, the hope was for a corruption free India. Congress will need to identify its idea of hope to set a true challenge to Modi.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)


Kartikeya Sharma

Kartikeya Sharma is Political Editor at WION. When he is not working, you will find him travelling, reading or cooking.
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