Chandigarh, February 24
Aiming at a Congress-led anti-BJP coalition for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, senior party leader Jairam Ramesh says that raising voice against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies would be the basic requirement for any such arrangement.
“We know our role. A strong and empowered Congress would be at the centre of an anti-BJP alliance,” Ramesh said days after Rahul Gandhi’s remarks in Shillong raised the hackles of Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, thereby reducing the possibility of the two coming together to take on the BJP.
According to Gandhi, TMC fielded candidates in Goa to “help the BJP”, the very reason it was contesting in Meghalaya. The TMC too hit back questioning if the Congress, too, was helping the BJP by fighting 92 seats in the 2021 Bengal polls.
Huge baiter of PM Modi K Chandrasekhar Rao (BRS) and his new-found friend Arvind Kejriwal (AAP) also does not seem too enthusiastic about the possibility of a Congress-led anti-BJP front.
KCR is, in fact, working for anti-BJP, non-Congress opposition unity.
Political parties in India
At present, there are eight national political parties in India—Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Indian National Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, National People’s Party, All India Trinamool Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Apart from these eight national parties, there are multiple regional parties —around 50 state parties with official recognition and 2796 unofficial parties—all with individual ambitions, egos and agendas.
Reports suggest that around 643 registered parties contested in the 2019 general elections.
The idea of anti-BJP coalition
It is in this kind of a multi-party situation that the idea of a collective front to take on a behemoth like the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah-led BJP is brewing.
Itsbasic premise is that when anti-BJP votes get divided, the BJP gains.
The backdrop is the assumption that only 37 % Indians voted for the BJP in the 2019 elections. If the remaining 63% are united the BJP can be routed.
Is electoral math so simple?
Observers point out that in 2019 the BJP contested around 80% of seats, leaving the rest for allies.
In other words, around 20% of the electorate did not have the choice of aBJP candidate.
Also, fragmentation of votes is not something that happened only after 2014.
The fact is hardly any winning party has been able to secure more than 40% of the national vote share apart from Congress in 1984 (around 49 %) and that too in unique circumstances.
Observers say BJP’s 37.36 % vote share in 2019 had several nuances and needs to be decipheredin connection with India’s multi-party system and democracy.
Beisded, when a party wins an election with an increased vote share (BJP’s vote share increased from 31 % in 2014 to 37.4% in 2019), it normally includes gains across the board.
While the Congress is working out 2024 strategy in Raipur, the ruling Mahagathbandhan in Bihar too will hold a joint rally in Purnia on February 25.
Reports suggest that JD-U supremo and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is working on a strategy to take on former ally BJP with current alliance partner Rashtriya Janata Dal, focussingon the Hindi heartland.
Heartland states Uttar Pradesh (80) Bihar (40) and Jharkhand (14) account for 134 seats in the Lok Sabha. The BJP and allies, which in 2019 included the JD-U, had won a major chunk (around 115) of these seats.
The strategy seems to be aimed at reducing the BJP’s 2019 score in these seats by at least 50%.
However, this would only be possible with a cordial understanding between the Congress and regional satraps, including the Samajwadi Party in UP.The key part of the strategy is that the Congress should be willing to step back and allow regional parties to take control in individual bastions.
While Congress should be willing to accept the supremacy of JD-U and RJD in Bihar and Jharkhand, and SP in UP, they too should also help it win states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka where it will be in direct contest against BJP.
Likewise, the other regional players like BRS, TMC and AAP too should be willing to restrict themselves to their respective strongholds and help others in theirs.
Broadly speaking the non-BJP parties should be willing to forgo individualegos, agendas and ambitions and help each-other take on the BJP.
How feasible the arrangement can be is the real question.
#2024 #2024elections #2024loksabha #BJP #Congress #jairam ramesh #narendra modi
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