oppn parties 2019: Will Too Many Cooks Spoil The Opposition Broth?

News Snippets

  • In reply to a question in Parliament, the government says it is empowered to lawfully intercept, monitor or decrpyt information stored in a computer resource in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of India
  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
  • After Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, Jio also indicates that tariffs will be raised from December
  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
2019: Will Too Many Cooks Spoil The Opposition Broth?

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Congress president Rahul Gandhi has reconstituted the party working committee. The exercise was meant to make it more youthful, but the average age is still above 60 years. The new CWC met a couple of days ago and took two major decisions. The first was to pitch for “Rahul Gandhi as PM” for the 2019 general election campaign. The second was to give the president a free hand in entering into alliances with other parties to form a united front to fight the NDA.

The way the Congress has been decimated in state after state since 2014, it has no option but to enter into alliances. But the big question is whether regional parties will accept Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate. The leader of one of the biggest blocks of MPs – and that figure is likely to increase in 2019 – Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress, has taken the lead in forming a federal front. She has her eye set on Delhi. She has announced a rally in Kolkata in January where she is going to invite all opposition leaders. That is nothing but an attempt to showcase the massive support she has in Bengal and overwhelm other leaders into accepting her as one of the strongest contenders for the post of the PM.

There are other contenders. Sharad Pawar has long nursed the dream to occupy the top chair although his dwindling support makes him the least favoured contender. But if Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati ally in UP and deliver more than 40 to 50 seats to the opposition front, both of them can stake serious claim. The Congress can only hope for “Rahul as PM” if it dramatically improves upon the 44 seats it got in 2014. With anti-incumbency in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, along with support for the party in Punjab and Gujarat, the Congress is likely to emerge as the largest opposition party, perhaps with a better margin against others. The last time, the difference between the Congress and the second largest opposition party, the AIADMK was of just 7 seats and between Congress and Trinamool Congress just 10 seats. If regional parties are within striking distance of Congress numbers, they are unlikely to accept Rahul as PM. Most opposition leaders have commented as much after the CWC made its decision known.

There is only one scenario where Rahul can hope to become the leader of the opposition front. If the front manages to best the NDA and if other opposition leaders cannot come to an agreement as to who should be prime minister, they will plump for Rahul Gandhi as the consensus candidate. But if a leader is not projected during the campaign, it will be a massive propaganda victory for the NDA. Narendra Modi will coin many jumlas about how the rag-tag grouping that cannot decide upon a leader will be incapable of ruling the country. He will lose no opportunity in putting down the front as opportunistic and formed out of ‘hatred for Narendra Modi’. There is no doubt that a united opposition that strategically manages its candidates and votes at the grassroots level is likely to beat the BJP. But for that to happen, they have to decide on a leader first and then back him or her to hilt. As of now, that seems unlikely.