After Patna, a long road ahead for Opp.

If the Patna participants can overcome the Mayawati hurdle, the game can still be on.

Sunday’s Opposition rally in Patna, irrespective of which parties were represented there, will be remembered for its massive size. All news reports have used the word “impressive” to describe it, and one gave the detail that half the huge Gandhi Maidan was full. This is saying something, specially at a time when 20 districts in the state are reeling under floods. RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, under intense attack from the BJP at the Centre and the Nitish Kumar-BJP coalition government in the state (after the recent usurped mandate) on grounds of corruption, found his own particular areas of influence in north Bihar severely inundated with flood waters. In such circumstances, if lakhs of people turned up for the “BJP bhagao, Desh Bachao” (Drive away BJP to Save India) rally, the inference is hard to resist that ordinary people in Bihar — not committed to any party — are ready to be mobilised in a political cause.

Whether this is true across the country will be tested. The RJD chief’s rally is clearly in the nature of a goad to parties prominent in other states to get started, and not lose time in political bickering which is inevitable when parties, which are also local rivals in the power stakes, seek to come together for the larger aim of dislodging a political entity that is of a bigger dimension than themselves — in this case the BJP. BSP supremo Mayawati’s absence from the coalition field underlines this. She is very significant — and not just in UP, of which she has been chief minister. Though her party didn’t win a single Lok Sabha seat in 2014, it polled over 20 per cent votes. But the BSP boss has said she won’t be part of an Opposition unity effort to oust the BJP in 2019 unless the distribution of seats to be contested by each party is announced.

This is an impossible condition to meet and Ms Mayawati is too experienced a politician to not know this. In effect, then, she is saying she would again go it alone. She may thus be writing her epitaph, but others in the Opposition should not pretend afterwards that they weren’t warned. The BJP may be comforted by Ms Mayawati’s stance and that of Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, the estranged father of former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, who was at the Patna forum. For the saffron party, the coalescing of key parties in major states — those that send a high number of MPs — is a nightmare it would strain every nerve to avoid, having won the 2014 polls on the strength of only 31 per cent of the national vote. If the Patna participants can overcome the Mayawati hurdle, the game can still be on.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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