DC Edit | INDIA bloc mulls shrewd option for its PM 'face'

The choice of Mr Kharge would not only give the alliance a leader but would also divest the BJP & NDA of its key poll planks the dynasty

The suggestion by the leaders of two parties of the INDIA bloc West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal that Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge be the prime ministerial face of the Opposition alliance is a move that has the potential to brighten the poll scene in a single stroke. And Mr Kharge’s response to the suggestion that the primary task of the alliance is to win the election injects a sense of realism into the whole Opposition scheme for the elections.

It is a known fact that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will go to polls under the leadership of one of the most effective communicators of our time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In fact, the BJP won the Assembly elections in three states recently by projecting Mr Modi as the sole leader; the party did not even bother to project chief ministerial faces though there was no dearth of such material within the party. The Opposition alliance will have to have a leader if it were to go to people asking them to replace Mr Modi for any reason whatsoever. Given the presence of a number of wannabe Prime Ministers within its fold, it is imperative that the alliance zeroes in on a face ahead of the elections.

The choice of Mr Kharge would not only give the alliance a leader but would also divest the BJP and the NDA of one of its key poll planks — the dynasty.

The BJP and Mr Modi have made it a point to relentlessly target the Congress and all its alliance partners as proponents of dynastic politics in national and state politics. In fact, Mr Modi was taking pot-shots at the Congress and its president saying Mr Kharge is barred by the Gandhi family from pursuing his ideas in running the party. A dalit leader with a long political career, who is also the elected president of the Congress, Mr Kharge’s choice would blunt the NDA attack to some extent. Placing Mr Kharge in pole position in the alliance would make it bit difficult for Mr Modi to peddle the same narrative.

Ms Banerjee and Mr Kejriwal share a difficult relationship with the Congress, which is their opponent in their respective strongholds. However, by forwarding the name of the Congress president as the prime ministerial candidate, the two leaders have made it clear that they have no issue accepting the primacy of the grand old party within the alliance. The move could, as a corollary, make the seat-sharing talks in the three states where they hold sway an easier proposition.

Ms Banerjee has already suggested that a three-way alliance of her party, the Congress and the Left is possible in West Bengal where the BJP won 18 of the 42 seats in the last election. The Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress can make a formidable combination in both Delhi and in Punjab where the NDA had an upper hand in the last Lok Sabha elections.

It is up to the Congress and the other alliance partners to ponder over the suggestion of the two chief ministers, who, in fact have declared that they are opting out of the PM race. It will indeed put pressure on the others who would not mind throwing their hat in the ring. Successfully negotiating this difficult curve would be the first of the tasks of the INDIA bloc in their quest for power.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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