The opposition parties are too split on several topics to establish a viable national alternative to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
New Delhi: With the 2024 Lok Sabha election only 19 months away, the need for Opposition unity is growing stronger. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has already visited Delhi twice in the previous month, singing the anthem to bring everyone together. He is not only singing this song, but Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao has also visited Delhi, Patna, and Bengaluru in search of an anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition.
The Left parties often demand the unification of all “secular democratic forces” without specifying who would fall into this category. Despite these discussions, a 1977-style Opposition alliance is unlikely to materialise.
Several parties got together recently at an event organised by the Indian National Lok Dal in Haryana. Still, the Congress was conspicuously absent, prompting Mr. Kumar to publicly declare that no Opposition alliance can be meaningful without it.
Akhilesh Yadav, President of the Samajwadi Party, has never shied away from taking on the BJP. Still, he is now wary of forming alliances with the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress, and he is strongly opposed to Mr. Kumar expanding his footprint into Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress Party is vital to Opposition unity, and its former President Rahul Gandhi is marching from Kanyakumari to Kashmir with the theme “United India.” However, the party is currently engulfed in an internal political conflict.
Arvind Kejriwal, National Convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party, is optimistic about his chances of emerging as an alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and does not want to dilute his stakes in a broader organisation. The Trinamool Congress (TMC), the second largest Opposition party in Parliament, has remained deafeningly silent on ‘opposition unity.’
Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal and the leader of the TMC, has lost her enthusiasm for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. In the Vice-Presidential election, the TMC chose to abstain rather than vote with the Opposition. It is not as though the Opposition can defeat the BJP alone via unity. In Uttar Pradesh in 2019, the SP and BSP joined forces but could not defeat the BJP.
Nonetheless, state-level alliances of anti-BJP parties may be more viable than national-level efforts. The more these parties try to display national or multi-State unity, the more their contradictions emerge. Focusing on each state separately and attending to local nuances may be more beneficial to these parties.