Lesson from Maharashtra: Opposition unity the need of the hour

Key takeaway from the post-poll Maharashtra political drama is that if Opposition parties stay united, no amount of muscle or money power will be enough for BJP to take over one state after another

(from left) Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge (IANS Photo)
(from left) Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge (IANS Photo)
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The key takeaway from the post-poll Maharashtra political drama is that if Opposition parties stay united, no amount of muscle or money power will be enough for the BJP to take over one state after another. After convincing losses in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the Saffron party under the machinations of its president, Amit Shah, had engineered defections in rival camps to form governments in Manipur and Goa. In Karnataka, Congress and JD(S) MLAs were lured or threatened into defecting, leading to the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) government.

Amit Shah and the BJP shenanigans thought their tested method would bear fruits in Maharashtra too. But two regional parties, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Sharad Pawar and the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray, had other thoughts. While the NCP has been opposed to the BJP right from the beginning, the Sena, a long-standing NDA ally, had closely watched the functioning of the last BJP-Sena government under former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The total concentration of power in the hands of two men in New Delhi had been irking Sena for quite some time. That is the reason why the Sena insisted on a rotational Chief Minister to begin with. But an unrelenting BJP convinced the Sena leaders more than anything else that the Modi-Shah duo was unwilling to let go of its hold on the state government. The Sena’s decision to join hands with long-standing foes, the Congress and the NCP, should be seen as a revolt by regional parties against the Modi-Shah duo’s attempts to concentrate all powers in their hands.

Other regional parties in different states of India must take a leaf out of the Maharashtra story. There are powerful regional parties in India, like the All India Trinamool Congress under Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, DMK under Stalin in Tamil Nadu, Biju Janata Dal under Naveen Patnaik in Odisha, the Samajwadi Party under Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh, JD(S) under Devegowda and Kumaraswamy in Karnataka and many more. They must bring various stakeholders in their their regions and create a regional coalition along with the Congress before joining a national alliance against the fascist and destructive BJP regime.

The Congress, being the principal national opposition and in power in several states, including Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, should also work in tandem with the regional parties and try to iron out its differences with them. Climbdowns on all sides are needed for this to materialise. The BJP has taught one big lesson to all political parties in India: the pitfall of the arrogance of power. Only by keeping arrogance aside and by working together to save the country and the Idea of India, can a national coalition emerge like it did in 2004. It is not only the need of the hour but the only thing that can save the country from total ruination.

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