Deccan Chronicle

Unity eludes Opposition front in 180 LS seats

Deccan Chronicle.| Sanjay Basak

Published on: March 5, 2023 | Updated on: March 5, 2023
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (PTI file photo)

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (PTI file photo)

NEW DELHI: After a reality check in the Northeast and a stunning defeat in Sagardighi Assembly constituency in West Bengal, the Trinamul Congress, among other regional outfits, has emerged as one of the major stumbling blocks for the so-called "Opposition unity". The possibility of a pre-poll alliance among Opposition parties, including the Congress, appears "somewhat unfeasible" in over 180 Lok Sabha berths, post-poll permutations and combinations, depending on the election outcome, "is what the parties are looking at", a senior TMC leader said.

Speaking to this newspaper, Congress MP Manish Tewari hit the nail on its head by saying that Opposition unity would require a "massive leap of faith". He said: "Opposition unity is the need of the hour, but will the eminences populating the ranks of the Opposition take that leap of faith? At the moment, it does not seem so."

As West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s TMC won five seats in Meghalaya, it failed to open its account in Tripura. To make things much worse, the TMC lost the byelection in Sagardighi Assembly constituency in West Bengal to the Congress-Left alliance after holding the seat for the past 13 years. At this juncture, the latest round of election results "does not look good enough to sustain Ms Banerjee’s national ambitions," a TMC leader quipped.

A seething Ms Banerjee, who has branded the Congress-Left alliance as "unholy and immoral", has decided to go it alone in the 2024 general election. But the TMC is not the only impediment to Opposition unity, the other regional outfits that include the BRS (Telangana), YSRCP (Andhra Pradesh) and the BJD (Odisha), to name just a few, have not yet shown any inclination for a much-desired "Mahagathbandhan", or grand alliance, against the BJP, a Congress leader pointed out. For him, of 543 Lok Sabha seats, there could be no pre-poll alliance of the Congress with regional parties in at least 185 Lok Sabha seats. These include 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 42 seats in West Bengal, 25 seats in Andhra Pradesh, 21 seats in Odisha and 17 seats in Telangana. "And there’s always the possibility of the YSRCP and BJD backing the BJP to form a government at the Centre," the leader argued. Other outfits to contend with include the latest entrant, Tipra Motha in Tripura, and of course the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, which continues to expand.

At this juncture, there seems to be no clarity over the Congress’ pre-poll alliance with the JD(U) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). A section of Congress leaders feel that JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar’s remark that he was "waiting for the Congress’ signal to work for uniting all the Opposition parties" was more of "public posturing". Mr Kumar was conspicuous by his absence from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.

So far there have been no takers for Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s ambitious statement that the Congress Party could "lead" the Opposition unity moves. Sources said the JD(U) was against projecting any prime ministerial candidate and it felt there should be an issue-based campaign. In Bihar, both the JD(U) and RJD want the Congress to "accept their primacy", sources said. "We are aware that a conflict of interest remains a huge hurdle for a pre-poll alliance. So regardless of what we say, the Congress could possibly be looking at a post-poll alliance, depending on the outcome," the Congress leader added.

About The Author
Latest News
Most Popular