By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2022-05-22 16:21:23
2024 is still two years away. Political alliances in India do not hold for so long, especially ones that are entered into with the sole agenda of dislodging a party from power, in this case the BJP, and more so when they do not include the major opposition party, the Congress. Then what is the reason that Telangana chief minister and TRS supremo K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) is crisscrossing the country for the last couple of months and meeting all opposition leaders?
It has been reported that it is because he wants to bring the opposition on the same page for the presidential elections scheduled to be held in July. He wants all parties to come together and field a joint candidate against the NDA nominee and, since the BJP is short of 9194 votes in the Electoral College (consisting of MPs and MLAs of states and UTs) that elects the President, he thinks that if the opposition parties come together seriously, they can hand the BJP an embarrassing defeat. That will also be a huge boost for opposition unity and would give them a leg up to seriously think of going for the kill in 2024.
KCR has met Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneshwar and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar in Mumbai. He also met Akhilesh Yadav and Delhi chief minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi last week. He is expected to travel to Karnataka to meet JD(S) father and son duo of H D Deve Gowda and H D Kaumarswamy after which he will meet West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (that is surprising) and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav in Patna, all in May. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Tejashwi Yadav have already travelled to Hyderabad to meet KCR. This is quite a list but two major parties are missing. KCR has not reached out to Andhra Pradesh chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and the Congress.
As for the Congress, the state of the party leaves it no choice but to back the joint opposition candidate even if it is not approached and the DMK is likely to vote with the Congress but if YSRCP and BJD do not come on board (remember they voted for the official NDA candidate in 2017), the best laid plans of KCR will come to naught. The opposition must realize that since the shortage for NDA is small, it is manageable if the opposition is not 100% together. That is why KCR has embarked on a state-hopping mission. He has to approach Jagan Mohan Reddy too, for even if one party breaks away, the NDA will sail through. There are also talks about the NDA fielding a Muslim candidate (the name of Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan is doing the rounds) to fox the opposition parties. It remains to be seen how things pan out after the date is announced and the NDA declares its nominee.