For Non-BJP Parties, The Vote Arithmetic alone is not enough

For Non-BJP Parties, The Vote Arithmetic alone is not enough

The idea of a national Opposition is mired in uncertainty and questions about whether disparate parties, often with conflicting interests, can indeed come together. Yet today, writes Saba Naqvi (Senior Journalist) “more than ever, there is a need for them to do so. Small competing forces must bury the hatchet and come together for their own survival. It is also in the interest of the nation and democracy to have a robust Opposition. It is, therefore, imperative for non-BJP forces to try and crack the Opposition matrix.”


The Congress factor

For example, “in states where the Congress is in alliance with regional parties, but as a junior partner, there appear to be greater chances of giving the BJP a tough fight. That includes Bihar, where the Congress is part of the ruling coalition led by the JD(U)/RJD that appears strong from the arithmetical perspective of caste and community. It can certainly challenge the BJP that won 39 of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 when the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) was part of the NDA. In Tamil Nadu, the Congress is part of the DMK-led front that is in power in the state that sends 39 MPs to the Lok Sabha.”

In direct BJP-vs-Congress contests in the General Election, Naqvi points out “the latter often does poorly. Problems also arise where the Congress is not part of a front, but challenges the regional party; such a situation exists in Telangana where the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi is facing a challenge from the rising BJP, even as the Congress remains a player, however small. Therefore, the question that rightly emerges is: how can parties become partners against the BJP when they are fighting each other?”

This is the case in Uttar Pradesh where the main Opposition party, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has not extended formal support to Rahul Gandhi’s Unity March. In West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, the respective ruling regional parties will do the fighting and there is nothing significant left of the Congress in these two states for there to be any competition.

In Kerala, the Congress  fights the ruling Left Front. In Punjab, there is Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)  that has chosen to be an outlier in all joint Opposition strategies. All such parties, suggests Naqvi  “need to re-examine their strategies, their narratives of enmity with each other and somehow get together.

“The key eventually to Opposition unity is not just the arithmetical coming together of parties, but their capacity to create a joint narrative…..”

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