As Nitish tries to unite Oppn parties, Maha may be easier nut to crack

Mumbai, April 30 (IANS)
With the countdown for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections on, national Opposition parties are busy working on unity efforts on several fronts and at various levels in the states.
This time, Janata Dal (U) president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is attempting to cobble together a ‘united Opposition’ against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance which completes nine years in power this April.
The challenge before Nitish is awesome though not insurmountable, despite a multi-rainbow scenario among the Opposition parties with their own pluses-and-minuses.
Barring the Congress, no other major Opposition party has much presence or influence or a pan-India credibility beyond their respective region or domains, including Nitish’ own party, or the other states like Delhi, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala.
However, Maharashtra will be a crucial factor in any Opposition front — with 48 LS seats, the second highest in India after Uttar Pradesh — and a string of important parties like the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) of the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Shiv Sena (UBT), and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) plus other smaller outfits.
The main Opposition parties here have their independent strongholds and dedicated voters, the VBA commands around 6-7 per cent, the socialist groups another 7-8 per cent, the Communists also powerful though in pockets, all of which could add up to a decently formidable challenge to the BJP here.
“The route to the Himalayas will be paved through the Sahyadris. Maharashtra is a critical state and the BJP is on a downslide everywhere. The MVA will bag a minimum of 40 LS seats. The beginning will be made from Karnataka,” claimed an optimistic state Congress chief spokesperson Atul Londhe.
According to the NCP’s chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase, the state Opposition is already firmly united under the MVA and only the nitty-gritties for the LS elections have to be worked out after the Karnataka election results are out.
“As always in the past, the winds of change will start blowing from this state. The MVA will be a part of the united Opposition forum to challenge the BJP for the much-needed change,” said Tapase.
Shiv Sena (UBT)’s national spokesperson Kishore Tiwari said that not only Maharashtra, but the BJP is discredited all over the country with its communally divisive policies, anti-poor, anti-farmer approach and a blatantly pro-industrialist bias.
“The country has suffered quietly for 9 years and now it’s time for the BJP to pack up. The public sentiments are strongly in favour of a change at the state and national level through a combined Opposition challenge,” said Tiwari.
JD(U) national general secretary Kapil Patil said that Nitish will arrive in Maharashtra around mid-May and “meet the top leaders of all the Opposition parties” including Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, Prakash Ambedkar, et al seeking their views and soliciting cooperation.
“He has already put forth certain positive suggestions – like 1:1 challenge to the BJP in at least 500 (total 543) LS seats, no personal ambition and expectations from all parties to make adjustments/sacrifices for the larger national interest,” Patil said.
He reiterated Nitish’s philosophy that the idea is not just to defeat the BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but to safeguard the Constitution, ensure the ‘victory’ of democratic values, secularism, the regional forces and aspirations, strengthen the federal structure as envisioned by the great leaders of the freedom struggle, and a strong future for Indian democracy with justice to the last man standing.
“If all parties join hands in Maharashtra, it will definitely make a big impact and contribute to the national efforts, we have to plunge into this like a ‘second independence movement’ with only the national interest at heart,” Patil said.
On the possibility of a ‘khichdi’ being dished out after the elections on the lines of 1977, with the possibility of some leaders/groups hopping over to the other side, Patil smiled and said that ‘unity in diversity’ is the hallmark of Indian democracy.
Nevertheless, the JD(U) leader feels that ‘khichdi’ will be good for the country’s democratic health and though these are “hypothetical questions”, he was confident that all will work together for the national good.

- Advertisement -