Opposition Fractures Before State Polls, No Unity in Sight
Who will unite the opposition
The Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party could play spoilers in the upcoming assembly polls in five states and puncture the opposition unity by fielding candidates in most constituencies. This is also expected to have a bearing on the winter session of Parliament in November with a fractured and not united opposition on display.
While the Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is focusing on Goa and has tied up with the Goa Forward Party, ,the AAP led by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is concentrating on Uttarakhad and Punjab. It has projected Col Ajay Kumar (Retd) as its 'face’in Uttarakhand but has yet to reveal its hand in Punjab .
These two parties are not in a position to emerge as an alternative to the ruling BJP in Goa and Uttarakhand but they have the potential to damage the Congress, as are expected to cut into its votes in both the states.
An united Opposition had put the government in the dock in the monsoon session of Parliament on several issues including Pegasus and the farmers protests. This unity seems to be fractured since with all the political parties set on pursuing their own agenda in the run up to the state elections, that include Uttar Pradesh.
Mamata Banerjee is blaming the Congress for failing to take the lead in bringing the anti-BJP parties together, maintaining that the regional political parties could not wait indefinitely for the national party to get its act together.
On the other hand,the Congress has started its election campaign in Uttar Pradesh under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who is the AICC general secretary and in-charge of Uttar Pradesh. The message is loud and clear. The Congress cannot wait for a pre poll alliance with the Samjawadi Party and is ready to go solo. Although speculation is now rife about changing alliances after the meeting between Priyanka Gandhi and Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhry. Until now the RLD was in alliance with the Samajwadi Party for the UP polls.
The Congress is the main Opposition in parliament and thus cannot be isolated. But at the same time it has alienated the smaller regional parties by demanding more than its share in any emerging alliance. The DMK (24 members),the TMC (22), the Shiv Sena (18), Samajwadi Party (5),NCP (5) could be a solid bloc along with the Congress. But who will unite the divided opposition is still a big question.
Barring the DMK and the NCP, no regional party is comfortable with the Congress for different reasons. If the RJD led by Lalu Prasad Yadav is annoyed with the party for taking in Kanhaiya Kumar into the Congress, the Samajwadi Party does not want to be seen reviving the Congress to defeat the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Mamata Banerjee is still smarting about the Congress decision to ally with the Left in the recent Assembly elections in West Bengal, even though she has indicated her willingness to enter into a larger alliance with the national party. The Congress in the state has been attacking her, with the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury hitting out at her for criticising the Congress just recently.
The Biju Janata Dal, the YSTR Congress Party, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the AIADMK are seen as friendly to the BJP, and have maintained fairly equi distance from the two national parties.The Congress party is following its own narrative in UP, and under Priyanka Gandhi has stopped reacting to the BJP and its jibes altogether. However, it does not have a good organisation to mop up the votes and without an alliance with the Samajwadi Party will not be able to give a good fight to the ruling party.