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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Opposition unity unlikely to translate into national alliance

In Uttar Pradesh, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) have announced a pact for Lok Sabha polls keeping the Congress out— thereby making the contest triangular.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Jan 20, 2019 07:36 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
New Delhi
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Opposition leaders at TMC led 'United India' rally in Kolkata on Saturday.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Opposition leaders at TMC led 'United India' rally in Kolkata on Saturday.(ANI)
         

The battle-lines for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections became clearer on Saturday with 18 opposition parties coming together for a rally in Kolkata with one unifying goal: defeating the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But, this may not translate into a national pre-poll alliance, even though some state-level opposition coalitions are taking shape.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) have announced a pact for Lok Sabha polls keeping the Congress out— thereby making the contest triangular.

BSP chief Mayawati made it clear she was a proponent of an anti-BJP, anti-Congress alliance, an idea also floated by Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao who skipped Saturday’s rally. In Telangana, the so-called grand alliance of the Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Community Party of India and Telangana Jana Samiti may not fructify for the Lok Sabha polls after their poor performance in the recently assembly polls.

Also Read | ‘Bachao, bachao, bachao’: Modi mimics Opposition unity rally in Kolkata

In West Bengal too, the chances of an alliance of all anti-BJP parties appears bleak. The Congress is keen to contest the Lok Sabha polls with the CPI(M) led Left Front — Trinamool’s arch-rivals who made their position clear by skipping Banerjee’s meeting. “If the Congress allies with the TMC in Bengal, we will be politically finished,” said a senior Congress leader on Saturday, asking not to be named.

In Bihar, the grand alliance led by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress is likely to keep out SP and the BSP -- though most opposition parties have an in-principle understanding, a pact similar to what they have in Jharkhand.

In Maharashtra, the opposition alliance is only between the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress. The Congress is likely to contest Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the three states it won from the BJP in 2018 assembly polls, alone.

Also Read | Mamata uses rhetoric, hyperbole to underscore Opposition unity, attack Modi regime

Political analysts termed the opposition’s rally as a landmark show of unity but were unsure whether it will translate into a larger coalition. Most of them said the opposition needs a common manifesto, as suggested by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda at the rally, to convince voters.

Former Presidency College principal Amal Mukhopadhyay said as of now the opposition does not have an acceptable “cohesive” leader who can keep all of them together.

(With inputs from bureaus in Kolkata, Ranchi, Patna and Hyderabad)

First Published: Jan 20, 2019 07:36 IST

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