Opposition priority is not PM post but to oust BJP in 2019 LS polls

In Mamata Banerjee’s meeting with opposition leaders in Delhi, it has become clear that for the Opposition, ouster of Modi govt is more important than deciding the PM candidate for 2019 LS polls

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

NH Political Bureau

Amid talks of seat-sharing in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s series of meetings with opposition leaders in Delhi over the past two days, one clear message has emerged: for the Opposition, ouster of the Narendra Modi Government is more important than deciding the face of their prime ministerial candidate in 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Retreating from her earlier position, Banerjee said on Wednesday, August 1 that she was not vying to be the prime minister, her priority is to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha election.

“There will be a collective leadership to take on BJP in the coming Lok Sabha polls in 2019,” said Mamata. Analysts feel Mamata’s back-pedalling about her prime ministerial ambitions is significant as it sets the baseline for Opposition unity.

All opposition parties have now understood that if they keep raising the issue of the prime ministerial face:

  1. efforts to from a larger opposition alliance will go in vain and
  2. it will affect electoral prospect of all opposition parties till 2024

The best way is to go to the polls without any face, said a Congress leader on the condition of anonymity.

When Banerjee started her fairly publicised trip to Delhi on Tuesday, she appeared firm on her position within the alliance. But sources told National Herald that during discussions, it became clear to her that her firmness may upset partners, particularly Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati

To stop Modi, the 2019 Lok Sabha election is the best opportunity. Yes, it will be a litmus test for Opposition unity also, but after Didi’s Delhi trip, it seems the baseline of the unity has been drawn, said a political commentator on the condition of anonymity.

When Banerjee started her fairly publicised trip to Delhi on Tuesday, she appeared firm on her position within the alliance. But sources told National Herald that during discussions, it became clear to her that her firmness may upset partners, particularly Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, who, it must be said, has more tie-ups with regional parties.

Being a Dalit and four-time Chief Minister of the biggest state of the country, Mayawati’s party has already staked its claim for the top post. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s warm meeting and visible camaraderie with Mayawati at the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, has also tilted the discourse towards her. But sensing the gravity of the issue and the timing, her party has lowered its pitch, for now. Alliance talks are at a very fragile stage. In such a situation, it is better not to indulge in “unfruitful debate,” said a Samajwadi Party leader.

Similarly, for the sake of Opposition unity, Congress has also avoided making any premature statement. Studied avoidance on the part of the Congress party is a part of the strategy, as

  1. it will get more seats than any other party in the opposition camp, hence it will be a natural claimant for the top post and
  2. as a pan-India leader, Rahul Gandhi’s image is stronger than any other leader. So, naturally he will be more eligible than anyone else for the top post, said a Delhi-based political observer.

Although, Rahul Gandhi has indicated that his party is not averse to anyone else as the next prime minister during his recent interaction with women journalists, in the run-up to the Karnataka assembly elections, he had also said that he would readily accept the prime ministerial post in 2019 if Congress emerges as the largest party in the present Opposition camp.

Analysts believe, people have started considering him as an alternative to Modi. His being young and dynamic add more to his political capital. However, at this juncture, keeping away from the contentious issue of PM face is a well thought-out move. It will not only increase his chance as the PM but ensure the longevity of the Opposition camp also.

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