Rahul ensures Opposition unity remains a non-starter
By G Krishna Mohan Rao*
New Delhi: The ongoing efforts for Opposition unity ran into rough weather and proved that coming together of the opposition parties against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party remained a non-starter in the country.
The latest provocation was from the Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi who directly took on the Trinamul Congress (TMC) at an election rally in Meghalaya yesterday. Rahul Gandhi alleged that Trinamul Congress under Mamata Banerjee was indulging in corruption and political violence .
In his first speech, on February 22, 2023, in the poll-bound Meghalaya, Rahul said “ Of course, you also know the history of the TMC. You know the violence that takes place in Bengal. You know the scams, the Sharada scam, that have taken place. So you are aware, you are aware of their traditions”. Questioning the intention and motive of the TMC in contesting the polls in Meghalaya separately, he pointed out that the TMC also contested in Goa and spent “huge amounts of money…the idea was to help BJP in Goa and this is exactly the idea in Meghalaya also”.
Immediately the TMC hit back at Rahul and the Congress Party. This proved once again the distrust and rivalry between the Congress and the regional parties.
It is being pointed out that if the Congress were to lead the Opposition alliance, it should recognise the strength of the regional parties and be flexible in accommodating them with real ‘give and take’ spirit. Leaders like Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao, often referred to by his initials KCR, of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) party and Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are busy trying to explore a third front and the powerful Mamata Bannerjee of the TMC is positioning herself to be more of anti-BJP than anti-Congress; And the Left front is opposing the Congress in Kerala but aligned with it in Tripura, only indicates that Rahul is not yet acceptable to many regional parties.
In other words, it is becoming clear that the formation of a pan- India Opposition front against the BJP seems to be an uphill task. The main problem seems to be that many of the opposition parties would like to come together at the national level but continued to be bitter rivals in the states. This duality— contradiction— may not do good for the Opposition. In fact, the BJP is fully geared up to take full advantage of this position and the way it positioned itself in the present ongoing Assembly polls in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland is a clear example.
On the other hand, senior Congress leaders maintain, despite some problems in a few states, they are stitching up alliances at the state level, such as the ones that are in place in Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu. Despite the regional parties trying to encroach on the Congress turf, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) feels that regional parties are restricted to limited areas while the Congress has its footprints across the country. Hence, the regional parties cannot claim to be the fulcrum of the Opposition, the argument goes.
The regional satraps are of the view that unless the Congress proves itself in the coming Assembly polls in five major states in this year, the chances of the Congress leading the Opposition alliance in the coming Lok Sabha polls are bleak. Except in Telangana, in all other states, which are going to polls, the Congress is directly pitted against the BJP as its rival. One senior BRS leader from Telangana observed that if the Congress does not perform and keeps blaming the regional parties as ‘B ‘ teams of the BJP, “then why should we take the Congress seriously”.
It remains to be seen what sort of message the Congress is going to convey from its three-day important plenary session in Raipur over this weekend. Further, it needs to be observed to what extent the political resolution of the AICC would speak on the Opposition unity, in the context of upcoming Assembly polls as well as the Lok Sabha elections next year. The latest buzz in political circles is that Rahul may announce that he would not be the prime ministerial candidate and that he would not be interested in the post but work for the party under the leadership of Mapanna Mallikarjun Kharge.
Meanwhile, KCR is expected to be in the national capital shortly, to hold consultations with like-minded parties such as the AAP, Samajwadi Party, TMC and others, to explore the options for his dream project of a third front rather than a rainbow coalition. KCR built a new superstructure in Hyderabad, which is going to be his new secretariat, designed in an indo-saracenic architecture. He decided to name it Ambedkar Bhavan and wanted to inaugurate it on April 14, 2023, in order to coincide with Babasaheb Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. At this event, he decided to invite several regional parties.
On Ambedkar’s birthday, KCR also decided to hold an Opposition rally in Hyderabad to orchestrate his political clout. the Telangana Chief Minister has invited the entire gamut of non-Congress Opposition leaders to the inaugural function and converted it into an Opposition conclave.