In order to stop the BJP from coming to power again in 2019, the Congress party pitched for opposition unity or a grand-alliance against the BJP. This idea of opposition unity before the general elections is not a new thing in India. Earlier also various regional parties have come together to oppose a particular person or a particular party and the end result of such an alliance was always very predictable. During the 90s, the country suffered a lot because of the coalition governments. Most recent example of the collapse of opposition unity is the one that was formed in Bihar. It happens because parties come together to fight against a particular person or party without having any common ideology. This always becomes their undoing. But, this time cracks have started appearing in the walls of opposition unity even before its formation. Telangana Chief Minister KCR along with Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, pitched the idea of a federal front to take on the BJP, without the Congress. KCR had proposed federal front as both anti-BJP and anti-Congress. Earlier SP-BSP coalition had also said that the Congress would not get more than two seats in UP. BSP also denied any possibility of alliance with the Congress party for the upcoming Madhya Pradesh state assembly polls this year.
After KCR, Mamata Banerjee and SP-BSP coalition, now the NCP Chief Sharad Pawar has given a huge setback to the dreams of Congress for a grand alliance against the BJP. NCP chief Sharad Pawar in an interview to CNN-News 18, said, “a pre-poll grand alliance is not practical given the regional compulsions of parties in states.” His statement is very logical and rationale. During the recent high-profile publicity stunt by Arvind Kejriwal and his colleagues, Chief Ministers of various states of regional parties extended their support to Arvind Kejriwal while the Congress and the BJP maintained that it is another drama of Arvind Kejriwal in order to get media attention and shifting the blame of his failures on someone else’s shoulders. Congress didn’t found any support from the other regional parties. Even the left supported Arvind Kejriwal.
Conflict among themselves, ego clashes, and regional compulsions are some of the issues among regional parties which rule out any possibility of strong grand alliance against the BJP. If they want to create an effective anti-BJP alliance then the regional parties first need to sort out difference among themselves.
Sharad Pawar further questioned the practicality of grand-alliance. He said, “There is a lot of media speculation, lot of write-ups about some alternative front like a mahagathbandhan (grand alliance). But I don’t see anything like that. I don’t see that possibility. Some of our friends want that, but it’s not practical.” Sharad Pawar further added, “As per my assessment, it will be a state-wise position. There might be states like Tamil Nadu, where the number one party will be the DMK and other non-BJP parties will have to accept it. If you go to Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, you will find the Congress there will be the number one party. In Andhra Pradesh, one has to accept the Telugu Desam Party. K Chandrashekhar Rao’s party will the important factor in Telangana. In Odisha, (Naveen) Patnaik will be the important force. In Bengal, it will be Mamata Banerjee. These people will consolidate their position in their respective states as a state leader, as a state party and not as a gathbandhan.”
Statement of Sharad Pawar is one more nail in the coffin of Congress’ dream to make Rahul Gandhi Prime Minister of India. When a person like Sharad Pawar who is well known for their political acumen says so, it means that future of the Congress is gloomy. Possibility of a strong anti-BJP alliance seems to be a remote possibility. And the people would also not love to go back to era of 90s coalition governments which has caused so much of damage to the country.