Unity is still work in progress for Opposition

Unity is still work in progress for Opposition

Successive electoral defeats and arrests of leaders by central investigative agencies have increased the sense of urgency in the Opposition camp to cobble up an anti-BJP front ahead of the 2024 parliamentary election.

However, regional electoral interests and expansion aspirations of regional players are coming in the way of these, resulting in delay in any serious political formulation.


Over the last six months, Telangana chief minister and Bharat Rashtra Samithi president, K Chandrasekhara Rao, has made several attempts to put together a non-BJP Opposition front. However, for the Opposition parties, the electoral interests on their home turf far outweigh the common aim of defeating BJP in 2024. The main reason is that electoral interests govern their basic existence in their areas of influence.

Karnataka, for instance, exhibits this complicated political scenario. BRS has asked its legislators to campaign for Janata Dal (Secular) in 41 Assembly segments on Karnataka-Telagana border (called Hyderabad Karnataka) where the majority of people speak Telugu.

Interestingly, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is eyeing the same belt to make its foray into Karnataka politics. So, while KCR had invited Kejriwal and Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann to attend his rally in Khammam, his party will be actively campaigning for rival Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka.

KCR is also planning to expand northwards and set up BRS’ first state unit in Haryana – a state where AAP is actively working and planning to fight all segments in the 2024 Assembly elections.In the Assembly elections in Tripura and Meghalaya, there was a split in the Opposition vote – Congress had aligned with CPM in Tripura and was pitted against Trinamool Congress (AITC). The Trinamool had weaned away 12 of 17 Congress MLAs in Meghalaya in 2021, but did not benefit from this political manoeuvre. However, the biggest jolt for Mamata Banerjee’s party was the loss in Sardighi by-election in West Bengal, a seat which was wrested by the Congress.

Banerjee promptly declared her “Ekla cholo” (Walk alone) policy for 2024 elections. The volte-face is stark since Banerjee was a big votary of Opposition unity, and together with KCR had tried to get all parties together in January 2019 ahead of parliamentary polls.

The need to steer her own independent course comes from the realisation that she would have to ward off an aggressive BJP and the new axis of Congress-CPM to guard her turf in 2024.


The onslaught of central investigative agencies has somewhat brought the Opposition parties closer. When Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia was arrested last week, the Opposition parties – Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), BRS, RJD, CPM, Trinamool and SP–rallied behind him.

Congress media incharge Jairam Ramesh tweeted, “INC has always held the belief that institutions like ED, CBI & Income Tax Dept have become instruments of political vendetta & harassment under Modi Sarkar. These institutions have lost all professionalism. Oppn leaders are selectively targeted to destroy their reputation.”

However, the very next day, the Delhi unit leaders, including Sandeep Dikshit, opened a new front against AAP and demanded prosecution of Kejriwal in the feedback unit snooping case. This dual strategy comes from the awareness that AAP’s expansion will deplete the Congress. AAP has wrested Delhi from Congress and has completely rendered it irrelevant. In Gujarat elections also, AAP has directly eaten into Congress’ vote bank, giving a clear advantage to the BJP.

Kejriwal has decided to contest all seats in the forthcoming elections in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh – the three states which had largely a bipolar polity. This expansion of different regional players poses a challenge to the Opposition unity.

The disarray in the Opposition camp is evident even to the electorate, which will be looking for political and economic stability. For a common political formulation to take on the might of the BJP will need regional political parties to cede ground – something that is improbable in politics. A workable solution can only emerge if Opposition parties play to their strengths on home ground and rake up a respectable tally in 2024 elections.

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