Opposition unity – How real is it?


(Yerram Venkat Reddy)

Yet again the debate over opposition unity to stop the Modi juggernaut has come to the fore, ahead of the five state assembly polls in a bid to concretize it before the 2024 general elections.  Interestingly, these initiatives crop up whenever the regional parties feel threatened by the single largest party at the Centre.  This has happened in the past and it will continue to happen in future.

But, it might have succeeded in late seventies of the entire Opposition forming as a single block to bring down the mighty Congress, headed by Indira Gandhi after her ‘emergency’ fiasco. It could become possible as the man who became the binding force was a ‘selfless’ individual called Jaiprakash Narayan like the ‘Father of the Nation’ Mahatma Gandhi.

None will dare dispute that Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi was selfish to the core, except for his personal likes and dislikes like any other ordinary citizen.  What Gandhi couldn’t succeed Jaiprakash Narayan could, when he managed to convince the rightist Jana Sangh (now BJP) to merge with other parties conglomeration named as Janata Party, barring the hardcore Left parties, to unseat the Congress from power at the Centre.

Contrary to that, the efforts of many to form alliances against the single largest national parties like the Congress or BJP indeed collapsed under its own weight later.

As a result, the Lotus could bloom, more so under the leadership of Narendra Modi since 2014.  Though, the BJP could enter into pre-poll alliances with like-minded parties like the Shiv Sena or Shiromani Akali Dal, besides a few regional outfits, yet the BJP continues to provide its leadership by winning on its own the required seats to form government at the Centre, following the ‘coalition’ dharma religiously. Yet, over ambitious regional satraps like the Shiv Sena and Telugu Desam party have opted to break away their ties with the BJP and joined hands with those anti-national parties against whom their parties were taken birth.

Tejashwi Yadav meets Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao in Hyderabad in an attempt to forge opposition unity against the BJP - Frontline

In that context, one wishes to ponder how can these regional satraps ever come together to cobble a coalition in a bid to protect their own existence in their region or state and form an alternative government at the Centre?  For example, almost all the regional party founders are equally ambitious and nurturing with the ambition to grab the Prime Minister’s chair, the highest political office, at drop of a hat, if their efforts succeed. Whether it is the convicted Lalu Prasad Yadav of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwad Party or Mamata Banerjee of Trinamul Congress; barring these three regional parties, none other can dare ever dream as they have no numerical strength to stake a claim in post poll scenario if at all they join hands and put up a united fight. Such an experiment has failed is evident before us when Charan Singh or Chandrasekhar or I K Gujaral or Deve Gowda were foisted on the nation by few vested interests and certainly not by the majority electorate.

In that backdrop, will the efforts of the TRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao or Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son or Mamata didi or Sharad Pawar of Nationalist Congress, succeed? That too against the first ever duly and democratically elected leader like Narendra Modi as prime minister.  None in the past, can boast of taking such a credit that they were elected by the people of this great nation.  If the Nehru was the pick of Gandhi over Sardar Patel, then how Indira could occupy with the office after the suspicious death of Lal Bahadur Shashtri in Tashkent.  So is her son Rajiv Gandhi, who too was thrust upon the nation, when Indira was assassinated in trying circumstance by the loyalists of dynasts.  How PV Narasimha Rao or Dr Manmohan Singh has become prime ministers by default, is evident from all of us to see.

In sharp contrast, Narendra Modi, whom the party has projected as prime ministerial candidate in 2014, swept the polls single handedly.  He repeated that fete yet again with improved verdict in 2018.  He not only consolidated most popular prime minister across the country, but also emerged as one of the tallest leaders in the world.

Hence, to many, some vested interested regional party leaders’ efforts to cobble a united front, looks more as a myth rather reality. (The author is National General Secretary of Namomantra Foundation and National Vice-President & South India Convenor of Ramayan Research Council, besides other institutions.)