The gathering of all the anti-BJP opposition leaders on the occasion of HD Kumarswamy’s swearing-in-ceremony was the battle cry for the 2019 General elections. There is just one PM Chair and so many PM aspirants. Let’s look at the top five opposition leaders who could be in the race to become the Prime Minister, with an analysis of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Her Strength is that she is the tallest regional party leader. Her party single-handedly defeated three National Parties in the West Bengal assembly elections, namely the Congress, BJP and the Left which ruled West Bengal for 34 years. Her dominance in Bengal is clearly reflected in the recently concluded Bengal Panchayati Polls in which her party won more than 90% of the seats. She is ambitious and her party has been in power at the centre in coalition with both the Congress and the BJP.
Her weakness is that her party is limited to West-Bengal only. Her nature is also very boastful and rude, which doesn’t go down well with the other leaders of the federal front. Her party’s rule has been marred with corruption and political violence. Violence and corruption in the name of ‘Ma Mati Manush‘ will not work on a national level. Her heavy appeasement of Muslims might go against her and would end up resulting in the consolidation of Hindu votes in BJP’s favor. She has no vision for development in terms of industries or easing business.
Even if the federal front fails to win the election she may go on to become opposition leader in Lok Sabha. Her clout will expand at national level also. She can give strong opposition in the Parliament against the BJP.
Threat for her is very big, as her biggest challenge would be to keep the federal front united. These federal front type ideas have not survived for long in India. If Federal front fails to give a good performance then she will face strong challenge from the BJP in her own state as well.
The three time Chief Minister of Maharashtra is very popular, with a strong influence on national politics of the country. He has in the past initiated major development work in Maharashtra.
He is accused in several corruption cases; He is also blamed for single handedly introducing and establishing caste politics in Maharashtra. He is very old now and hence might not appeal to the youth of the nation.The biggest drawback is that the NCP does not have much influence beyond Maharashtra.
In the past he has led Union Agriculture Ministry and Union Defence Ministry. So if the federal front wins he might get an important ministry to head.
The biggest threat for him is that his party might lose elections badly given the fact Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis’s popularity is rising. This means he might also end up losing relevance in national politics for good.
Mulayam Singh Yadav
Being a big political player in Uttar Pradesh, he won both his lok sabha seats despite the Modi wave. His Samajwadi Party in coalition with BSP defeated BJP in UP By-polls. Mulayam Singh Yadav is very popular among Yadavs and Muslims.
Weakness- Party suffered sudden setback in UP elections amid anti-incumbency against him in the party. His party does not enjoy support in other states. Caste politics is both his strength and weakness, as it will shift the voters of other castes towards other parties like the BJP. His insensitive comments on rape might not yield him the support of women in the 2019 elections.
In past he has led the Defence Ministry under the United Front from 1996 to 1998. Again, he might get an important ministry if federal front manages to come to power. Possibilities of becoming PM are there if the SP performs well in UP in the 2019 elections.
Threat is that if they don’t perform well in UP, his political career may well be over. His son Akhilesh has already challenged his dominance in the party.
The Congress party president is the only Congress leader who has mass appeal despite the party’s horrible performance in elections. He is still very popular and has a clean image.
Weakness- Fading trust on his leadership. He failed consistently to win any election since becoming party president. Party’s graph has only gone downwards under his leadership. He is nothing in front of Modi’s charisma and his lack of knowledge about India doesn’t do him any good.
Opportunities – He can hope to become PM if his party could repeat the political maneuvers it achieved in Karnataka.
Threats- One more failure will completely eradicate his party’s trust in him and the Congress might suffer further debacle leading to the potential disintegration of the Congress after the 2019 elections.
HD Deve Gowda
He is a former Prime Minister who headed the Third Front government at the centre with the support of Congress. He has experience of leading a federal front type coalition. With the support of Congress in the Lok Sabha elections, his party can perform much better than what it did in the Assembly polls. He had done good work during his short tenure as Prime Minister like brining in the citizen charter, giving tax holidays to IT companies for 10 years and gave a dream budget in 1997. Did such good work for agriculture that farmers of Punjab named a variety of rice after him.
A variety of rice is called Deve Gowda in Punjab. Named after H D Deve Gowda says celebrated IAS officer Chiranjiv Singh.
— DP SATISH (@dp_satish) October 25, 2014
Weakness- He is old. Influence is only limited to Karnataka. Being a conventional politician, he has no social media presence.
Opportunity- Being the former CM, his claim of getting the candidacy for Prime Minister would hold more prominence. If not PM, then he can earn an important ministry under the federal government’s ruling. He can also use federal government to revive the dying Janata parties in the aftermath of the 2019 elections.
Threat- Biggest threat is of back-stabbing by the Congress like they did in 1997. Congress might also withdraw its support from the state alliance in Karnataka. This bubble of third front might burst very quickly just like it has in all previous occasions, and the 2019 elections might not be any different.