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Internal dissensions within parties could hobble the united Opposition

The old guard have refused to fade away into the sunset claiming that experience and political acumen should take precedence over age

editorials Updated: Aug 31, 2018 14:00 IST
Hindustan Times
Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav with his brother Shivpal Singh Yadav. The latter has raised a banner of revolt by forming the Samajwadi Secular Morcha.(PTI)

The old order rarely changes and gives way to the new in Indian politics, at least not without putting up a right royal fight. That’s what is happening in the Samajwadi Party (SP) where its chief Akhilesh Yadav is having to contend with his uncle, Shivpal Yadav, raising the banner of revolt by forming the Samajwadi Secular Morcha. Akhilesh’s father and SP founder, Mulayam Singh Yadav, has been sniping at his son from the sidelines, saying that he has not been given the respect he deserves. Many parties, among them the Congress, have been trying to effect a generational shift but without much success.

The old guard has refused to fade away into the sunset claiming that experience and political acumen should take precedence over age. The recent changes in the Congress reflect that the dispensation under the new president, Rahul Gandhi, has not been able to make any significant break with the past with prized party posts going to tried-and-tested older leaders. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is held together by Lalu Yadav, although his two sons have been jostling for supremacy.

Such fights make the task of forming a united Opposition all the more difficult. First, there is the clash of ideologies and personalities between the parties attempting to forge a grand alliance. But there are also internal problems and rivalries within parties as in the SP, which makes such alliances shaky from the start. The two leading parties in Tamil Nadu, for example, both of whom will be wooed by the united Opposition and the BJP, are fractious and unstable, although the DMK is less so than the AIADMK.

The PDP in Kashmir is not in good political health with dissent in the party as Mehbooba Mufti’s style of functioning and her failure to sustain a coalition in the state have come in for criticism. The problems in the SP should be of great concern to the yet-to-be-formed united Opposition since it will have a bearing on Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. The BSP-SP combine can pose a serious threat to the Bharatiya Janata Party but if, as Shivpal Yadav suggests, many SP leaders and workers join him, the game changes altogether. Generational shifts and internal dissensions within parties could hobble the united Opposition even as it lines up for the race.

First Published: Aug 31, 2018 13:59 IST