At times, political maneuvers may prove counterproductive which may happen to West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee who seems to be a leader in hurry.
The lack of well thought out political strategy coupled with unnecessary haste toto attain the top slot in the country may immediately hit a roadblock, It seems to be true about the recent efforts of Mamata Banjerjee as Shiv Sena has hit out against her campaign to isolate Congress from any possible joint opposition front to take on a strong Bhartiya Janta party in 2024 general elections. In an uncertain game of politics, such a crusade may end in a fiasco before it could take off ?
As per Mamata Banerjee’s observations, UPA is non-existent and Congress does not have capacity to take on BJP. It has infuriated the grand old party. Congress says that Mamata was in the company of BJP for three to four times hence she should stop giving sermons to us. Similarly, Shiv Sena has snubbed TMC chief who is currently engaged in a tussle with the Congress and said keeping the Congress away from national politics while creating an opposition alliance parallel to the UPA is akin to strengthening the ruling BJP and other “fascist” forces. In an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, the Sena also said that leaders like Mamata should focus on clearing her stand instead of creating confusion while talking behind curtains to various leaders.
In her quest to achieve the ambition of becoming Prime Minister ,coupled with her constant efforts to create space for her Trinamool Congress by engineering defections in the Grand Old Party, West Bengal chief minister, Mamta Banerjee, may directly help Bharatiya Janata Party in 2024 general elections as she may end up in weakening the chances of forming a strong joint opposition inclusive of Congress.
Possible scenarios which may benefit Modi
Interestingly, Mamta has launched her virulent attack to discredit the Congress which is being supplemented by her close advisor Prashant Kishore who has taken on Rahul Gandhi, describing him incapable to lead joint opposition. Experts say that it is being done to create a space for itself which seems to be an uphill task. Seven time MP, CM, and Union Minister, Mamta does qualify for the post of prime minister but her area of influence is confined to West Bengal. Her new strategy of engineering defections in Meghalaya where the Congress legislative party split vertically with the twice chief minister Mukul Sangma, and 11 other MLAs joining the TMC and creating a token presence of her party in some of the states; might have encouraged her but India’s geopolitical configuration warrants more. secondly, analysts say that BJP may be smiling on the efforts of Mamta to target Congress which is considered by the ruling party as its main rival due to its national character. Hence Saffron Party may welcome exclusion of the Grand Old Party in any opposition front in 2024 general elections.
A piquant situation has risen owing to the failure of Sonia Gandhi to lead United Progressive Alliance owing to health reasons, as senior opposition leaders are hesitant to accept the leadership of Rahul Gandhi who has shown flickering of mind even to take over as a regular president of the party .
Thirdly, regional satraps believe that a weak Congress is not having the capacity to ferociously take on BJP which is laced with well oiled machinery of RSS, vast resources, party cadres etc.
Fourthly, BJP leaders might be having sadistic pleasure over TMC keeping away from the opposition meetings or the decision not to sign the joint statement issued by opposition parties, to protest the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs, two of whom belonged to the TMC which may isolate her party from opposition. It has got the danger of declaring TMC by her rivals as ‘misfit’ to lead opposition or assigning Mamta a bigger role. She is also keen on displacing the Congress from its current position of the leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha.
Analysts opine that Mamta might be flying too high that too on the basis of victory in her state which does not match with the mandatory ground reality of having its presence in other states. Contrary to it, Pan India presence of Congress in several states makes it relevant, logical and rational to be a part of any possible joint front as an effective weapon. Congress leaders believe that any idea of having an opposition front without Congress may be a body without soul which must be understood by Mamta.
Congress has got its hold in states like Punjab (13), Rajasthan (25), Madhya Pradesh (29), Chhattisgarh (11), Haryana (10), Himachal(4), and Uttrakhand (5), where it has got full capacity to take on BJP on one to one seat. Rest of the parties will have to settle for leaving these seats to Congress which might enhance the chances of winning more seats. Second, if any joint front of opposition is formed then it 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 Adami Party),Maharashtra(Maha Vikas Aghari Gathbandhan), Karnataka JD (S) and Congress as well as 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; and refraining from projecting herself as a possible candidate to snatch the post of chairperson of UPA from Sonia because she knows her limitations as a regional satrap who does not command any influence outside the boundaries of West Bengal. Unlike Sharad Pawar, she does not have a long experience of central politics which is completely different from state politics. But, in real sense, even Pawar is also limited to Mahrahstra and unacceptable to Congress which may prove as one of the biggest handicaps besides strong opposition from Congress if he is projected as leader of joint opposition? Pawar had joined late Sangma in a foreign origin tirade against Sonia Gandhi and parted company with the Congress.
Mamta had earlier met Sonia on ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ to discuss the political situation which can be attributed to the efforts of Prashant Kishore who had exchanged views about possible political realignments in 2024 with senior leaders like Pawar etc. also. But she avoided such a meeting this time, though she did discuss her plan with some other leaders in Delhi including Subminimum Swamy, a Gandhi family baiter.
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. But now he has hit out against Congress besides making efforts to keep it out through Mamta. He doubts Rahul’s capability to lead a new opposition front. The new strategy of TMC to create a token presence in Haryana and engineering the defections of the disgruntled Congress leaders may be aimed at psychological war-game but it may not create an impact on the ground.
TMC with the guidance of strategist Prashant Kishore has tried to spread its influence in Goa, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Assam, but could not make much inroad as BJP is already on a strong wicket which was visible in local polls in Tripura where it has mauled the opposition.
Mamata’s meeting with Maratha stalwart, Sharad Pawar, did not yield tangible result as he has not given any hint about his intentions to encourage her political move as he has attained studied silence.
Mamata’s utterance of declaring UPA as nonexistent proves the new strategy to reign in regional satraps like Chandra Sekhar Rao, TRS, Jag Mohan Reddy, Shiv Sena, Naveen Patnaik etc., which might have direct blessings of Pawar. Pawar is nursing a long cherished dream to be PM which as per his belief, has been thwarted by Congress. Experts say that Pawar enjoys the stature on a national leader who can match Modi, whereas Rahul does not fit the
bill. Due to Pawar’s role in establishing Shiv Sena in its premier position in Maharashtra by outsmarting BJP, Udhav Thakre may stand by him to push him to lead a new opposition front. Regional satraps may also accept Pawar as the new leader of the front as he is respected by them. But his party is insignificant as it is having limited presence even in his home state which makes his bargaining power zero. Pawar’s name will be outrightly rejected by Congress but he can take any decision to keep himself relevant in national politics.
In this complex political scenario, opposition unity seems to be a mirage though compulsions may bring warring regional straps together to forge a joint opposition front but the leadership issue may again dodge it; besides Congress party’s efforts to have its own alliance of friendly parties!
( K.S.Tomar is political analyst)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.