After the crushing defeat of the Left by the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) in Tripura assembly elections earlier this month, the political narrative swung in favour of the ruling party with regards to 2019 being easy pickings, when seen as to how they demolished the CPI(M)’s 25 year long rule.
After the by-polls results in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, coupled with the “Kisan Long March” happening after the Tripura verdict, the narrative has suddenly swung towards the possibility BJP’s 2019 run might not be as easy as it appeared earlier. After the farmers march in Maharashtra, it showcased that the Left is not “over and out” thanks to the thousands of “laal jhandas” which were seen in the hands of the participants; and after the BJP’s defeat in their heartland of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh to Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supported by the Samajwadi Party, the narrative that a “Mahagathbandhan” (grand alliance) of state parties opposition can defeat the BJP has further gained momentum.
In the Indian democracy, it is a positive aspect of the system where opposition parties have a massive prevalence. They can not only put a check on the ruling government but can also change the course of public opinion. The Uttar Pradesh by-polls results are doing exactly that. They have once again opened up conversations about opposition parties, talks which weren’t taking place some months back when it seemed that 2019 would be a cakewalk for the BJP.
However, since people are talking now, let’s talk about as to whether a “Mahagathbandhan” during the 2019 general elections would seriously live up to the serious expectations which are expected from an opposition party. If recent history tells us anything, then it can be seen that alliances are quite volatile in nature. Just take Bihar for example.
The Nitish Kumar- Lalu Prasad Yadav alliance won with a two-thirds of the votes in the Assembly elections in 2015 which was seen as one of the most triumphant victories against the NDA. However the alliance broke off two years later in 2017 as Nitish Kumar who was referred to as “Chanakya” in 2015’s win, jumped ships and joined Narendra Modi. The reasons are not important here but what is imperative is that in an alliance, there are high chances that it might fall apart. As there are so many major players in an alliance one never knows who might swing in which direction.
The initial alliances of potential alliance has already started as expected. According to latest news, Telengana Chief Minister, K. Chandrasekhara Rao and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee had a sit down on Monday where discussions took place between the two political leaders regarding the formation of a “federal front,” an alliance which would take on both the the BJP and the Congress. Reports also said that Rao stated that both the leaders came to an “understanding.”
The interesting aspect to be noted here is that the discussion of a potential alliance was not only intended as an opposition agains the the BJP but also against Congress. So clearly, it can be seen that some state leaders are not showing any faith in the young and supposedly more politically mature Rahul Gandhi when it comes to leading the country.
If they are against Modi and don’t support Rahul Gandhi also, then who will be the potential leader of India even if an alliance is a viable opposition? Mamata Banerjee reportedly said after the meeting with Rao, “Sometimes in politics, situations become such that people have to come together to work… We want a strong front but we are not in a hurry.”
However, what the state parties need to is hurry and come to a concrete decision as soon as possible, There are too many unanswered questions and the 2019 general elections is just a year away and seen in the context of Bihar’s “Mahagathbandhan,” an alliance as an opposition should be taken with a pinch of salt. It might be a good idea but it isn’t a guarantee that an alliance will necessarily work in 2019.