Naidu is on a mission to unite opposition leaders to take on the Bhartiya Janata Party in 2019. The meeting comes just days after the Congress-JD(S) alliance swept the by-elections in Karnataka. Naidu is also expected to meet DMK president M K Stalin.
Days after meeting Congress president Rahul Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar in Delhi, TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu is set to meet JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda and Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Thursday. Naidu is on a mission to unite opposition leaders to take on the Bhartiya Janata Party in 2019. The meeting comes just days after the Congress-JD(S) alliance swept the by-elections in Karnataka. Naidu is also expected to meet DMK president M K Stalin. The victory has emboldened opposition leaders who think that the only way they can stop the BJP is by forging a grand alliance.
After winning by-elections, Kumaraswamy said that the next Lok Sabha election will be a successful result for the opposition parties. “People are going to bless Mahaganthbandhan (grand alliance). People are fed up with the present system of the country, they want an alternate,” Kumaraswamy said in an interview. And to do that, Naidu has already begun the process. But, will he succeed in building an opposition that could take on Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in 2019?
Here are 5 reasons why a grand coalition may not work against the BJP:
Prime ministerial face
While the opposition parties are clearly stacked against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but they are yet to decide who will succeed him. The absence of a consensus on Rahul Gandhi as the united opposition’s prime ministerial candidate may work against the opposition as people prefer to know who they are voting for in any election. And the BJP is far ahead on this one as Prime Minister Modi is still popular among the masses and could single-handedly corner a faceless opposition.
According to a recent survey by Daily Hunt and AC Nielsen, Modi still holds sway over India’s electorate, with 50 per cent of people surveyed voting for a second term for the PM.
The opposition has a big task ahead of bringing BSP chief Mayawati on board. She is a key player in Uttar Pradesh where the saffron party won 72 of 80 seats in 2014. The BJP can be stopped in the state if BSP and SP come together with the Congress. However, Mayawati seems to be upset with the Congress over seat sharing and may not compromise on seats in Uttar Pradesh as well. And if that happens, the dream of grand opposition may fall flat. Now, all eyes will be on Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh.
By-poll results not a barometer
The Karnataka by-poll results have served as a wake-up call for the BJP. Losing the Bellary seat, considered a stronghold of the Reddy brothers by a margin of over 2 lakh votes, to the Congress has shocked the saffron party. The loss in Jamkhandi by over 39,000 votes was like rubbing salt on their wounds. The opposition may position it as a sign of things to come, people largely vote the party in power in by-elections. Such elections are more about local issues and local leaders. On the contrary, voters keep in mind that they are voting to elect the Prime Minister of the country in national elections. And that is where the opposition falls behind as it does not have a leader who could take on the Prime Minister.
A grand opposition may provide Prime Minister Modi an opportunity to play a victim. He can utilise it to create a counter consolidation of votes as he did in Uttar Pradesh in the last assembly elections. In the past, the Prime Minister has said that these opposition leaders have come together not to protect the country but to protect their own interest. And this sounds convincing for people who have seen all the opposition leaders fight each other in the past.
People prefer to have a stable government for five years. The BJP would like to project the opposition as something that will not be able to concentrate on governance considering their numbers and would waste time on negotiations on portfolios and the prime ministerial face. Even after the formation of the government, there is no surety that the alliance would last for the next five years. Every regional leader will have a stake in the assembly elections that will have to face elections in regular interval. This may put all regional leaders in a tight spot at the national level.
Referring to this, finance minister Arun Jaitley last month termed the grand alliance as ‘a tried, tested and failed idea’. He further cited the examples of previous coalition governments headed by Charan Singh, Chandra Shekhar, VP Singh, HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral.