oppn parties A Resurgent Congress Might Be Bad News For Opposition Unity

News Snippets

  • China bans access to Indian news websites
  • PM Modi says that as Unlock-02 kicks in and more people resume working, people have to follow the rules even more religiously
  • PM Modi says that all citizens need to be vigilant against people who do not follow the rules in force, like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing
  • PM Modi warns the country that with the onset of the monsoon, more seasonal diseases will strike and citizens have to be more disciplined
  • Hero Cycles to buy the struggling Atlas Cycle group
  • RIL to buy the retail businesses of Future Group
  • Import licensing to be put in place for AC's TV's and other non-essential items
  • Rafale to deliver the first batch of the fighter jets to India by the end of July
  • J&K separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the most visible face of the Hurriyat, broke all relations with the forum
  • Nearly 20000 new Covid cases reported in India on Sunday. 384 deaths reported
  • Even as the Centre checks Chinese shipments for viruses and malware, transport minister Nitin Gadkari says holding up consignments at ports will hit India more than China
  • Fuel retailers in J&K asked to stock up on LPG cylinders for two months due to fear over the closure of roads because of landslides and flooding in the monsoons. But it triggers wild speculations about war with China
  • Amazon to hire 20000 temporary staff in addition to the 50000 seasonal staff it hired recently
  • RBI board thinks of relaxing norms for NPAs. The 90-day recognition might be extended to 180 days due to widespread distress due to the lockdown
  • Google and Apple approach the government to include their API in Aarogya Setu app for contact tracing of Covid-19 infected persons
PM Modi announces extension of PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, the free ration scheme for the poor, until November
oppn parties
A Resurgent Congress Might Be Bad News For Opposition Unity

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2018-12-16 21:08:54

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The worst nightmare of regional parties has come true. The Congress has bounced back in style by winning in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. For the last few months, regional parties were pushing for building a common platform of non-BJP parties to take on Narendra Modi in 2019. But these parties were not eager to either accept Rahul Gandhi as the natural choice to lead the front or grant the Congress much space in each of their strongholds. Their calculations were based on the fact that with just 44 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and successive losses thereafter, the Congress was neither in the position to dictate terms nor lead the united front. Each regional satrap – most prominently TMC chief Mamata Banerjee – fancied his or her chance.

But all this changed on December 11. As soon as the results started trickling in and it was clear that the BJP was being drubbed by the Congress, the gloom in the camps of regional parties was quite visible. They were not happy that the BJP juggernaut was being halted. Instead, they were sad and alarmed that the Congress was doing it on its own. They felt that a resurgent Congress would once again change the political narrative of the country to a two-party one, where there would be little or no space for parties based on regional ideology. Make no mistake – the regional parties fear both the BJP and the Congress almost equally. Some of them abhor the BJP more because of its anti-secular (or nationalist, as the BJP would say) ideology, but they dislike both as they feel these parties eat into their votes.

The smugness of the regional parties will now vanish. On the other hand, Congress will now sit for unity talks with a new confidence. It now knows that the 44 seat nightmare of 2014 is a thing of the past. The win in three states and Punjab and Karnataka before that, coupled with the good showing in Gujarat and Goa, has given it a bargaining power it did not have at the start of this year. The regional parties know that with these wins under its belt, they would now have to yield a lot more space to the Congress than they were either willing to or had bargained for initially. With general elections due in just a few months, this does not augur well for opposition unity.

On the contrary, it works in favour of the BJP. It is now certain that Congress is not going to yield the leadership to any other party or leader. Rahul Gandhi for PM in 2019 is going to be the Congress mantra. This firmly closes one window of negotiation. A few regional parties would be highly miffed at the changed situation, but they can do little about it. Their leaders may smart at their hopes and dreams going up in ashes but the fact remains that after these electoral victories, Rahul Gandhi has positioned himself as the only opposition leader who can take on Modi in 2019 on a pan-India basis.

Hence, the regional parties will now negotiate hard on seat-sharing. But if the Congress wants to seriously dislodge Modi and form a strong and stable government after that, it will need to have between 175- 200 Lok Sabha seats. This can only be possible if it gets a lions-share of seats in most states. The regional parties are unlikely to yield so much to the party, especially in UP, Bihar, Bengal, Maharashtra and Andhra. These states account for 232 Lok Sabha seats. Without these, the Congress will not be able to dominate the united front and even if it becomes a reality and is able to win in 2019, the government formed thereafter will be very fragile and unstable.