Is united opposition front the only national alternative to BJP?
For 28 years Trinamul Congress and West Bengal Pradesh Congress had been separately organizing Martyr's Day events on July 21, as a mark of protest (but more for igniting new spirit and enthusiasm among party activists and supporters) against the killing of the youth Congress activists in police firing. West Bengal was ruled by the Left Front and Mamata Banerjee was a fire brand Youth Congress leader then. Much water has passed through Ganges since then. Left Front neither has any representation at the state Legislative Assembly, nor does it have any representation from the state in the Parliament. And Mamata Banerjee is already the third time Chief Minister in the state. Therefore, July 21 had to have a different connotations and different takeaways.
And the 21st day of July 2021 understandably marked a new occasion- unveiling of Mamata Banerjee's Mission National. And top leaders of the two parties that had so long been separately commemorating this Martyr's Day, did give a united and patient hearing to Mamata Banerjee's unity call. And not just these two parties, but leaders from Samajwadi Party, RJD, DMK, NCP were also party to it.
Interestingly, this was not the first time such a move was afoot. Before the last general election also BJP's political opponents had tried to put up a united opposition front against Modi-Shah's party. However, as the polls day drew closer, these parties had fallen apart and a united opposition remained a distant dream.
However, this time round, the situation is fundamentally different on more counts than one. First, compared to last time, when Narendra Modi and Saffron Brigade's popularities were at their peaks, this time the popularity graphs are on a downside, thanks to fuel price hike, failure to curb and tackle the Covid crisis, failure on vaccination issue and so on. Secondly, Congress has weakened and has been more marginalized and therefore it does no longer enjoy the same command as it used to enjoy among the non-BJP parties. Besides, within the Congress, the dissident group, popularly called G 23, has become much more vocal. And last but not the least, while Rahul Gandhi's leadership has come under scanner time and again, Mamata Banerjee, despite all her drawbacks, has arguably come up as the most serious challenger to Mo-Sha's leadership. Thirdly, this time round, not just political leaders from different parties are trying to work out such a unity formula, but an independent, professional poll strategist- Prashant Kishore (popularly known as PK), who has already proved his mettle on more occasions than one, especially during the last assembly polls in Bengal, is burning midnight oils to see this move through. Political analysts are of the view that PK's involvement from behind the scene will certainly make a difference. Mind you, PK is handling two assignments- for Mamata Banerjee in Bengal and Capt Amarendra Singh, Punjab chief minister simultaneously. And he recently had brainstorming with NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and Congress stalwarts like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi.
So, the game has already started. And this time it has started much earlier as general polls are due in 2024. And with three years to go for the next Lok Sabha polls, there will be many defence-penetrating passes, dribbles, long through passes, offsides and fouls, corner kicks. Watch this space.