Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by Mamata Banerjee last month inflicted a heavy defeat upon BJP and humbled the party which carried an air of invincibility into the elections. Since then, murmurs have been growing in pace to project Mamata as the leader of the opposition to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, come the 2024 General elections. However, as we have seen numerous times in the past, the possibility of formulating a third front has been as unattainable as Congress appointing a non-Gandhi head as the party leader. That being said, three possibilities have been posited that could transpire in the next elections where Mamata could inadvertently play an important part.
Before beginning, let’s touch all the bases as to which political leaders across the country have truly managed to oust BJP in the last seven years. A quick glance shows that the biggest setbacks for BJP have been Bihar-2015 under Nitish Kumar, Delhi-2019 under Arvind Kejriwal and now West Bengal in 2021.
The first two leaders are, however, a pale shadow of their former selves. Nitish has returned to the NDA fold and is clutching onto the last straw of his political career. Meanwhile, Kejriwal and his terrible political gameplay have been starkly exposed and he is not even half the leader he was when he took the plunge into the cesspool of politics, claiming to usher the nation into a new era of ‘honest’ ad-free politics.
Perhaps, that only leaves Mamata as the tallest leader amongst the lot. And following are the three permutations that arise from such a situation.
Scenario 1: Congress accepts Mamata as the opposition leader
Scenario 2: Congress rejects Mamata as their leader and goes to elections with old allies like the DMK and RJD
Scenario 3: Mamata takes a backseat and Rahul becomes the main opposition face
Scenario-1 and Scenario-3
Congress might have taken a dig at the BJP after losing in West Bengal by training its guns on the shoulders of Mamata but in ‘reality’, the grand old party is assuredly not going to yield its allegiance to a non-Congress leader. The party is just too rigid in its structure to allow Mamata to take the centre stage and push its party prince Rahul Gandhi to the fringes. Thus, the first assumption and its implementation seem pretty bleak at this stage.
However, since we are dealing in hypotheticals, we let our imaginations run wild and assume that Mamata receives the nod from the Gandhi clan to go ahead. Thus for the first time, the TMC supremo will be up and against PM Modi on the national turf. Quite naturally, it will be a Hindu Vs Muslim contest with Hindu voters overpowering Muslim voters.
Despite the taut rhetoric from Mamata and TMC, it will be a humongous victory for the BJP. Secondly, even though Mamata has enormous clout amongst her Bengali vote base, she is still considered a rogue leader outside her home. The voters won’t be voting for a leader who doesn’t fit the conventional mould of a national leader. And certainly not for one who has a penchant for engaging in political killings, even after winning an election.
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The scenario-3 is also destined for an ill-fated end as the opposition comprehends that projecting Rahul as the face of the opposition could be disastrous if the previous two instances are any indication.
However, in scenario 3, the opposition bloc will perform better than scenario 1 but a victory for the BJP will still be big. Congress will emerge as the second-biggest party after the BJP and the regional satraps will perform well in their bastions. It will be a repeat of the 2019 results.
The most realistic set-piece that the opposition is expected to take is repeating its 2019 election strategy. Congress torpedoes ahead, claiming to be the principal opposition party while trusted lieutenants like NCP, SP, DMK, CPM and RJD converge from the flanks. On the other hand, Mamata buoyed by her electoral victory forms a suicide squad with SS, JDS, AAP, SAD, TRS, YSRCP, IUML and others.
With the entire opposition parking its bus, BJP has a moment or two of trepidation but it quickly goes into cruise control mode and manages to penetrate the defence. Although it loses out on few seats, compared to the previous Lok Sabha elections, it still manages to emerge as the biggest party with TMC coming second while Congress lurking somewhere behind, scrimmaging around for scraps.
All three scenarios point towards an NDA victory and a third consecutive term for PM Narendra Modi. No matter how much the left-liberal media tries to bat for a ‘third front with opposition political parties coalescing together under one umbrella’, it still remains a pipe dream.
The truth of the matter is that PM Modi and his gargantuan stature dwarfs the other political leaders. And as sad as the realisation is, the country is devoid of a strong opposition leader that can challenge him at the national level. Sure Mamata and her ilk can thump their chests for defeating BJP in the assembly election but rarely does a state electoral victory by a regional party translate into a victory at the national level. The Modi juggernaut runs riot.