Emergence of anti-BJP opposition

Ashok Bhan
The recent by-elections results have further provided impetus to convince the combined opposition especially the defeat of BJP candidate from Kairana (Uttar Pradesh) that if the unity of opposition is weaved astutely and without ego hassles,the BJP can face a flak in 2019 elections.A united fight by opposition has set in a pattern of the peoples mood,anger and courage to vote against the failures of the BJP led NDA Government
Government formation by Congress -JD (S) in Karnataka has changed the political dynamics and embolden the opposition to believe that Modi-Shah duo agenda to spread BJP’s pan-India base is stoppable.The combined Opposition that has been trying to stitch up a united front of non-BJP parties is positively euphoric to take on BJP in 2019 general election.
Rahul Gandhi while addressing media after Government formation,said Congress party has protected the voice and aspirations of people of Karnataka.He said his party will always strive to lend political support to the peoples voice and save the democracy,societal plurality and the institutions. He said Modi model of governance is despotic and authoritarian and it has brought major failures in the economy of the Country consequently the common people are suffering colossal hardships.He appealed to the people of Chhattisgarh,Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan to knock out BJP and set a final stage for 2019 defeat of BJP.
Mamta Banerji, Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav have bigger role in blunting the BJP. Allies in NDA have not stuck to BJP.Shiv Sena  though a partner, has said that it would go solo in 2019. Telgu Desam Party a tested and tried ally of BJP lashed out at PM Modi and his party to have betrayed the people of Andra Pradesh and called Modi and his cabinet as brazenly denying the people of Andra Pradesh their legitimate due and hobnobbing with the sworn adversaries of TDP. Telengana Chief Minister is one of the premiere advocates for anti-BJP united front.All the other friendly smaller allies of BJP are sulking within NDA.
Rahul Gandhi has been leading the party for quite sometime into the dust and din of mass politics.With his hard work,the passion to lead from the front and skill to weave political understanding with youthful leadership and likeminded secular parties,he has emerged as the main challenger to PM Modi.Notwithstanding the fact,that he does not have a level playing field with Modi, Rahul Gandhi has challenged Modi on his home turf in Gujarat and fiercely fought the electoral battle to bring his party neck to neck to BJP.Now Rahul Gandhi with the assistance of skillful party managers and a competent team of legal eagles Singhvi  and Sibal succeeded in blunting Modi -Shah duo to wrest power in Karnataka.It is a major setback to invincibility of the Shah and his team.
The only mantara for opposition to blunt the BJP pan India march is to know how to hold together.The immediate past Gujarat elections and UP by-election has shown when the opposition unite and fight together the notional 69 percent population that did not vote for BJP in 2014 election becomes real.The political momentum will gradually pick up and the next year’s summer elections final would commence after the outcome of Assembly polls later in the winter of 2018 in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Before Karnataka election, at the well attended 84th Plenary session of Indian National Congress, Rahul Gandhi was ideologically unflinching in his sharp criticism to Modi led BJP Government on its failing record on Country’s economic management, social harmony, protection of the institutions and minorities ,eradicating corruption, providing jobs to unemployed youth, and justice to farmers etc.He also introspected about UPA’s failures in its term in office.He loudly proclaimed that he is likely to build a Congress Party where the gulf between the worker and the leader would be bridged.
In India 65 percent of its population is under 35 years of age and there is a huge aspirational India.The Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi with legacy of”the tryst with destiny of pandit Nehru,the patriotism & sacrifices of Indira Gandhi, the  vision of Rajiv Gandhi and political outreach skills of Sonia Gandhi has a long way to go.The political and electoral success will chase him because he leads from the front,establishes an inclusive dialogue with masses, the Congress karikartas,promotes progressive narrative and creates a modern vision that resonates and connects the youth and the aspirational India.He is emerging as an astute and skilful leader with the art of turning all the palpable failings of NDA into an opportunity.
There is a dire need to prevent the fragmentation of anti BJP votes.The Congress Party’s main poll campaign plank will be economy,the promise of growth, welfare, farmers,jobs and intolerance etc. The idea is to capitalise on the failures of Modi Government to deliver “Achhe Din”. Congress main constituency will have to be farmers,youth and women the three of the most substantial demographic categories in the Country. The party’s hope is BJP’s perceived push for homogeneity will bring it votes from South.
All that is needed is strengthening of organisational structure, and cadres require great political motivation to win 2019 elections. The Congress Party does not have the major support of larger social and caste groups in key election States.It has to evolve a narrative of what it can offer.The plenary session has helped the Congress Party become a battle-ready, with enthusiastic, involved and dynamic cadres of all the generations, but the political battle for the Party will be hard if not long.The advantage with the party is that each house hold has a couple of Congressmen/ Congresswomen throughout the length and breadth of the Country.
Rahul Gandhi has to keep in mind that he still has a formidable and powerful adversary in Narendra Modi. The Modi’s juggernaut  spreading the BJP political roots as a pan India has, though been blunted in Karnataka, still Modi is a well trained Pracharak of RSS.He has a gift of the gab.He has the experience of being a Chief Minister.He successfully dislodged all his senior potential rivals from the race.He continues to command RSS support.He is the star vote catcher for BJP. He is perceived a passionate doer. Above all the big advantage and strength is that” he is the Prime Minister”.
A united opposition with pre-poll adjustments would have to garner  69 percent votes that did not vote for BJP in 2014 in a purported Modi wave.Rahul Gandhi has proved his astuteness,selflessness and political skills in Karnataka and emerged as 2018 mascot.The coming electoral tests requires a touch of difference and out of box tact by Rahul Gandhi only then he and his party could highly impact 2019 election mandate in India.In 2019 election the electorate would have to chose whether Modi of 2014 was able to deliver on his promises.The vote will be either for him or against Modi.
(The author is Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Political Analyst.)


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