Lok Sabha elections 2019: The Congress party has indicated it is ready to give up its pitch for Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate of the Opposition alliance as its prime target is to dethrone Prime Minister Narendra Modi and stop the BJP-RSS. This comes two days after the party had shown it was keen to position Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate for the opposition alliance.
It is apparent that powerful regional satraps are unwilling to fight under the Congress umbrella pivoted by Gandhi, at least not as pre-poll alliance partners. There are two reasons: First, as the Congress remains at its weakest best, regional parties sense 2019 as an opportunity to strengthen their base and spread out to other states. Hence, a clear message from parties like the BSP and the SP – “Respectable” seat-sharing in states beyond Uttar Pradesh or no alliance at all.
BSP supremo Mayawati on Tuesday said in a statement, “For some Congress leaders who often give different reactions in the media regarding an alliance with the BSP for the assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the party clarifies to them that the BSP will make an alliance with Congress to contest in these states only when our party is given a respectable number of seats in the alliance.”
If the Congress fails to accept Mayawati’s condition, she indicated, the BSP may contest all seats independently. For now, the BSP is preparing to contest in all Assembly seats of Madhya Pradesh alone, she said. Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav has also decided to contest alone in MP. Should this happen, the SP and BSP would cut into Congress votes and the sight of the so-called alliance parties fighting against each other would not augur well for the grand old party or Gandhi in 2019.
Second, the Congress’ arrogance, and its inability to accept the reality that it is no longer the power it used to be, raises doubts among the regional parties. Hence they are not willing to give up their golden chance to go national from being regional. Will they succeed or not will depend on the final outcome of the upcoming elections. For now, even the Congress appears to have woken up to its shaken reality.
On Tuesday, Congress indicated it will bring all parties together to take on the BJP, and not insist on making Gandhi the face of the united opposition.
“We will bring all the Opposition parties together. Let us get together to defeat BJP. That is important as of now. Let us see how the dice rolls (post elections),” The Indian Express quoted a Congress source as saying.
“If we manage to bring in the alliances, Modi and the BJP will not be able to make it in 2019. If the BJP does not make 230-240 seats, Modi cannot be the Prime Minister. He will not be able to make it if these alliances work,” the source added.
The Congress source even said the party is open to the candidature of anybody as the PM face including West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and BSP supremo Mayawati. The realisation, however, comes too late for the Congress. The party had not entertained the idea of making Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, who would have been easily accepted by all anti-BJP groups, the face of the opposition against Modi and eventually lost him to the saffron party last year. Kumar is now a BJP ally.