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Opposition uniting

 Editorial |  2018-03-05 15:20:20.0

Opposition uniting

After the Assembly election results of Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland on Saturday, parleys are being held to form the next governments in the state. The BJP has emerged as the biggest gainer and it is going to be in power in six out of the seven states in the North-East. The results have stirred up national politics as well. On Sunday, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) floated the idea of a People's Third Front and said that he is ready to play a bigger role in national politics. Within hours, KCR received calls from Trinamool Chief Mamata Banerjee and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Hemant Soren, who offered their support to the KCR initiative. And, in a rare sign of improving relations between the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP), the BSP has extended support to SP candidates in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur LS bypolls. From a grand alliance to coming together of two arch-rivals, the North-East poll results have stirred up national politics and leaders are now toying with various ideas to put up a united fight against the BJP. For the moment, the BJP is planning to organise a show of strength on the occasion of the swearing-in of their government in Tripura. In Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma and in Nagaland, Neiphiu Rio are likely to be sworn in as the new chief ministers.

As a precursor to the forthcoming Assembly elections in the country and the general elections scheduled for the mid-next year, the Assembly elections results in the three northeastern states, give BJP an upper-hand. With these victories, the BJP is a more confident party now. It has also won the Himachal and Gujarat Assembly polls recently. It is likely to approach the Karnataka Assembly elections which are due to be held in April-May with more vigour. It can afford to not worry too much about the results. Meanwhile, initiatives like the People's Third Front or a grand alliance like Nitish Kumar successfully forged in the 2015 Bihar assembly elections which saw the coming together of arch-rivals JD (U) and Lalu Prasad's RJD will be experimented in different Assembly elections until the general elections next year. The BJP has used a two pronged-strategy to win the Assembly elections in Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya. First, it popularised the idea that if the same party rules in the state as the one at the Centre, the long-neglected development of the region was possible. From communal issues, the BJP has moved towards a development plank. The mandate that it got in Tripura and other northeastern states is in response to its promises of bringing in developmental projects in the region. BJP's coming to power in most of the northeastern states shows that people have chosen to side with the party's development plank. Being in power in so many states in the North-East will bring the BJP face to face with the region's problems as well. The general image of the North-East is that of a mountainous region with flourishing cultural life. But the region is also infested with unrest and militancy. Poor infrastructure makes connectivity a looming concern. The BJP has a clear agenda on these issues. It promotes making roads and enhancing connectivity. It is also opposed to all kinds of militancy. If the people of the North-East thought that the BJP is better placed to deal with the region's problems, there are chances that they could be right. With the BJP in the government, the regional political aspirations, which lend support to militant outfits, are expected to remain muted and the common man's desire of a peaceful social and political environment might as well prevail.
At a time when everything appears to be going perfectly for the BJP, can the opposition become united and take on the party which is currently ruling in 20 states? KCR's prodding to opposition leaders to come under the fold of a united opposition to stop the unabated growth of the BJP is a fresh initiative and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already committed her support to the idea. The next year and a half will determine how far this initiative to unite the opposition parties runs successfully.

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