Mamta Banerjee's desperate efforts to unit opposition parties for 2024 parliamentary polls battle against prime minister, Narender Modi may face multiple hurdles, though not an impossible task, which can be attributed to various leaders having different ideologies, inflated egos, lack of charismatic leader, inflexibly, vested interests etc.
Buoyed with unprecedented victory in state elections, Banerjee has set out on an extremely difficult mission and started lobbying during her recent visit to Delhi. Experts believe that regional satraps enjoy their dominance in their respective states hence they may dictate terms while agreeing for any joint front against Bharatiya Janata Party. But politics is the name of improbability as it does bring friends and foes together provided goal is common which must be confined to attainment of power and money. Analysts feel that Mamta's recent sojourn is Delhi was different as she focused on her mission to sell an idea of obligation of forming a joint front to take on Modi’s BJP which has got vast resources, backup of Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh and a strong leader, Modi, which is lacking in the opposition.
In this background, Mamta is confining her role as a catalyst to mobilize the different opposition leaders. In her enthusiasm after a huge victory in West Bengal elections, chief minister Mamta Banerjee has started her campaign from Delhi to unite the opposition parties and coining a new slogan ‘Modi versus Country’ which is being used as symbol of countrywide resentment against the centre owing to a downslide in economy, serious fallout of
pandemic, unemployment, loss of jobs, price rise etc.
Political observers foresee two emerging scenarios which may become a reality to take on Modi in 2024.
First, Congress has got its hold in states like Punjab(13), Rajasthan(25), Madhaya Pradesh (29), Chhattisgarh(11), Haryana(10), Himachal(4), Uttrakhand(5) etc., where it has got full capacity to take on BJP. Rest of the parties will have to settle for leaving these seats to Congress which might enhance the chances of winning more seats.
Second, ‘Mahagathbandhan’ can focus on those seats which fall in respective areas of their influence like Uttar Pradesh (Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party), Odisha (Naveen Patnaik party, Biju Janata Dal), Telangana (CS Rao’s party,Telangana Rashtra Samithi ), Andhra Pradesh (N.Chandrababu Naisu’s Telugu Desam Party), Delhi (Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party), Maharashtra(Maha Vikas Aghari Gathbandhan), Karnataka (JD-S and Congress, and few other smaller states which constitute 339 parliamentary seats to create the chances of
winning a sufficient number of seats.
Banerjee has not described her campaign as Modi Versus opposition, refraining from projecting herself as a possible candidate to snatch the post of chairperson of UPA from Sonia because she knows her limitations as regional satrap who does not command any influence outside the boundaries of West Bengal. Unlike Sharad Pawar she does not have an experience of central politics which is completely different from state politics. In real sense, even Pawar is limited to Mahrahstra and unacceptable to Congress which may prove his one of the biggest handicaps besides strong opposition from Congress if he is projected as leader of joint opposition?
She met Sonia on ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ to discuss the political situation which can be attributed to efforts of Prashant Kishore who has exchanged views about possible political realignments in 2024 with senior leaders like Pawar etc. also. Prashant has made it clear that opposition unity will be a farce without Congress which has got pan India appeal and rest of the parties are confined to their states. Experts feel that Congress is not perceived as a potential force to lead these regional satraps which can be attributed to its humiliating defeats in successive parliamentary polls in 2014 and 2019 besides its relevance and lack of seriousness which does not have even an effective leader?
Contrary to it, BJP has already sharply reacted to Mamta’s attempt to forge unity amongst contradictory forces and compared such combination with 1977 ‘Khichdi Sarkar’ which fell like house of cards. BJP may project new alliance which has got one point programme to oust Modi as they do not have common ideology or vision for the countrymen. Experts feel that BJP has got a leader who delivered for the party in 2014 and 2019 but opposition lacks such stalwart who can take everyone along besides having nationwide appeal. BJP has got huge resources and a huge workers’ army in several states which benefits it in assembly as well as parliamentary polls. However, BJP may find itself on sticky wicket if Pandemic horror continues and crores of unemployed people are added to the list. Collapse of industrial base and swelling of poverty stricken people will add to the woes of ruling party.
Observes feel that Mamta’s efforts have at least created an optimism of taking on Modi though national battle is completely different from state electoral fight as former needs a ‘charismatic leader’.
(K.S.TOMAR IS NATIONAL COLUMNIST AND POLITICAL ANALYST)