Millennium Post

Opposition unites

In her effort to mobilise like-minded parties for a front against the current BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee attended a series of meetings with opposition and rebel BJP leaders on Wednesday. She has been camping in Delhi since Monday evening and has so far met Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Ram Gopal Yadav, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader Y S Chowdary, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad's daughter Misa Bharti and Telangana Rashtra Samithi's (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao's daughter Kavitha Rao. She also met MPs from Biju Janata Dal and JMM. On Wednesday, she met AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the evening. In the day, she met rebel BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha and Arun Shourie. After the meeting, former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha said that he came to meet her as there was a need to save the country. Shourie appreciated Banerjee's idea for a one-to-one contest with BJP in the 2019 elections. "If a one-to-one formula is adopted, then the opposition parties start with 69 per cent votes. Because even at the height of his popularity, Modi got only 31 per cent of the votes," he said. Talking about the operational part of the emerging coalition of opposition parties, he said that coordination in the states should be left to the wisdom of dominant political leaders. "He should distribute tickets in such a way that everybody can come together in that particular region," Shourie said. Shatrughan Sinha said that Mamata Banerjee is working in the interest of the country and that the country is above the party. On his meeting with the TMC chief, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that if our PM can go to Pakistan and meet Nawaz Sharif, why can't we meet Mamata ji. She is an Indian and the CM of a big state. She isn't untouchable. Mamata Banerjee reached Sonia Gandhi's residence on Wednesday evening. Addressing the media, she said that she wants Congress to come on board even as the two leaders discussed the 2019 election. We are opposed to the policies of BJP; BJP will have to go, she said. She also said that there should be a common opposition candidate on every seat. In her four-day trip to Delhi, Mamata Banerjee discussed the possibility of fighting BJP unitedly in the next Lok Sabha elections. By a one-to-one fight, she meant putting up a common opposition candidate against the BJP candidates on almost all the seats. This would ensure that the opposition votes are not divided and going by a similar experiment in recent UP by-polls, this would ensure the defeat of the BJP candidates. Mamata's presence in Delhi and her immensely successful meetings with opposition leaders has turned the heat on the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. Though there is no immediate danger to the current NDA dispensation, the efforts to bring together opposition parties have certainly given the Centre some nervous moments. Earlier this month, when former Congress president Sonia Gandhi had hosted a dinner, as many as 19 opposition parties had attended the dinner. Mamata Banerjee's hectic parleys with the opposition leaders have increased the political heat in the national capital. Suddenly, the BJP-led NDA does not look so invincible. Rather, looking at the willingness of opposition leaders to join a front being cobbled up by Mamata Banerjee, the prospect of a federal front ahead of the 2019 elections looks eminently possible. But Mamata Banerjee's initiatives to unite opposition parties have so far only brought the opposition leaders together. She has not been able to work out an agenda or the common minimum programme on which all the parties can agree. That can be a tricky issue. Shourie's idea that the issue of ticket distribution should be left to a dominant political figure in every state is too simplistic and may see problems cropping up at the last minute. The opposition's unity looks to be a great idea at the moment, but fixing the nitty-gritty of the emerging coalition and taking it into the election will mean dealing with a large number of practical issues. To effectively deal with the issues, a Central leadership is required at the earliest. Though Mamata Banerjee has initiated the efforts to unite the opposition to take on BJP in the 2019 elections unitedly, it remains to be seen who will inspire the broad spectrum of opposition leaders who are coming together to remain united till the elections and, more importantly, after the elections. The BJP camp will exploit these weaknesses by telling the voters that the new front has too many prime ministerial candidates and a government under them will not be stable. Mamata Banerjee surely will have to spend more time in national politics if she intends to continue with her efforts to present the BJP with a tough fight.
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