How the Opposition is rallying against the BJP

TMC leader Mamata Banerjee has invited Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and will request Sonia Gandhi’s presence at the first-ever political rally of the Opposition.

 |  4-minute read |   31-10-2018
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West Bengal CM, Mamata Banerjee, is not inviting Telangana chief minister KC Rao, and Odisha CM Naveen Pattnaik to her Brigade Parade Ground rally on January 19, touted to be the first-ever political rally of the Opposition conglomerate.

Reason: Foe’s friend is my foe.

At the moment, Mamata’s principal foe is BJP and going by the logic, “enemy’s enemy is my friend,” even the Left leaders, in case they are willing, are welcome at the Brigade Parade venue. Mamata has sent an invite to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. As for the Left leaders in Bengal, she has her reservations for obvious reasons. Any remote association with the Left will only strengthen the BJP’s hand and weaken the party’s position from within and from the outside.

True politics makes strange bedfellows, but for people — aam aadmi voters — such coupling springs more shock than surprise. People voted for Trinamool Congress both in 2011 and 2016 because they were over and done with the Left. So, cosying up to the Left at this juncture in whatever form and content, will only make matters worse, allowing the BJP to reap dividends off disgruntled supporters both in the Trinamool Congress and the Left camps.

mamata-copy_103118115723.jpgTMC leader Mamata Banerjee is trying to cobble up a united Opposition to take on the BJP. (Photo: PTI)

But, being friendly with Vijayan is harmless. Vijayan, apart from being a hardliner Communist, who doesn’t like necking and pecking with the Congress as per convenience, stands as a strong and firm chief minister, managing to survive the repeated onslaughts by the saffron party. Plus, Vijayan is made of sterner stuff, having the guts to remind Modi and Amit Shah that he's in power by people's mandate and not by the saffron grace.

Whether Vijayan will grace the Brigade is an altogether different question, but Bengal CPI(M) has already spelt its position: no truck with Mamata. Yesterday, at two separate Left rallies in the state, attended by some heavyweight Congress leaders, state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra said that his party will be with the Congress to defeat fascist forces — BJP at the Centre and Trinamool Congress in the state. Congress' West Bengal Pradesh President, Somen Mitra, who was with the Trinamool Congress and not known to like Mamata much, has embraced the gesture. Mitra even said he will communicate the message to the High Command, who incidentally shares a good relation with the CPI(M) general secretary, Sitaram Yechury.

The Bengal narrative is all set: Trinamool Congress will have to deal with the BJP, the Congress and the Left, which in a way will be good in splitting up the anti-incumbency votes. Mamata, who’s promoting the one-to-one formula (the stronger party in the region will go full throttle against the BJP without any other political elements) to block the Opposition, may have a different arithmetic in mind as far as her state is concerned. The more the political players in the arena, brighter is the possibility of the Opposition forces in Bengal getting dispersed. Mamata is also not looking to invite state Left and Congress leaders, even though she would be personally requesting Sonia’s presence at her Brigade rally.

naveen1-copy_103118123830.jpgPM Modi will have to rely on his allies to weather the brewing storm. (Photo: PTI)

If Sonia attends the rally, Mamata gains on two counts — first, it will be a signal to Rahul Gandhi as well as the state Congress leaders that she has the blessings of the High Command and, it will give her anti-BJP platform more power and greater acceptability among regional parties, which cling around Congress for being the national alternative to BJP.

Whether Sonia will come or send her emissary as the final stamp of approval is still in the realm of conjecture. The Congress is often found to display an attitude of indifference to the Prime Minister’s chair, tossing up hopes among the regional chiefs.

Stoking such regional ambition might be dangerous in the long run. Mamata is not in favour of jumping straight into the Congress’ lap unless there’s some serious compulsion. As of now, she has to fight the BJP at the state and national level. She has to keep her federal flock of anti-BJP feathers together.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Also read: What's coming in the way of Opposition unity?


Romita Datta Romita Datta

The writer is Associate Editor, India Today.

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