The battle within the Opposition space
On Monday, senior Congress leader and former chief minister of Goa, Luizinho Faleiro, resigned as a legislator of the assembly and quit his party. Mr Faleiro is all set to join the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and expressed his admiration for West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s street fighting abilities and her win in the recent state assembly elections. Mr Faleiro joins a list of leaders who have joined the TMC from the Congress in recent weeks, the most prominent being Sushmita Dev. The TMC has also picked a Congress-leaning activist, Saket Gokhale. It also welcomed former finance minister Yashwant Sinha (formerly of the Bharatiya Janata Party) right before the West Bengal polls, and former BJP MP and minister Babu Supriyo recently. It is making a serious bid to expand in Tripura, with an eye on the 2023 elections in the state; in Parliament, the TMC has been the most belligerent among the Opposition forces in a bid to lead the charge against the government; and Mamata Banerjee has made no secret of her national ambitions, including in her current campaign for an assembly seat.
All of this is actually not as much a challenge for the BJP as it is for the Congress. As other parties smell the Congress’s weaknesses, they are attempting to fill the vacuum — be it in the form of the steady election campaign the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is running in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa or the TMC’s attempt to poach disgruntled Congress leaders in a bid to unite them under a federal umbrella or in the form of movements (for instance, the farm agitation) setting the narrative on an issue. All of this may create momentum for the Opposition, but it also highlights the contradictions within. Managing these will perhaps be as critical as fighting the battle with the political hegemon.