The results of the Karnataka assembly elections have grim lessons for the opposition parties, especially the Congress Party led by Rahul Gandhi in determining strategy for the coming Lok Sabha elections in 2019. The BJP led by Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo has recorded a massive victory devaluing the Congress in this important southern state. This victory will give BJP a major boost in its coming campaign in the assembly elections in the three states-Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh by the end of the year.
There is also a possibility that boosted by this victory, Prime Minister will prepone the Lok Sabha poll and hold it along with the assembly polls before the year end. Rahul Gandhi did not take any initiative since he was under the impression that the Congress on its own, would be able to fight BJP and get majority. He even had the audacity to declare that he would like to be the Prime Minister after the 2019 poll.
At a time when the other opposition parties are trying to form a common front and the regional parties are very powerful compared to the Congress in many states, how can the Congress President declare beforehand that he would be the PM after the coming Lok Sabha poll? This adversely affects the efforts of the opposition parties to build a proper unity. The best course is to leave the issue open till the outcome of the Lok Sabha poll is known and then decide on the basis of the respective strength of the contending opposition parties.
The problem with the Congress is that the Party still thinks that it is a natural party of governance and Rahul Gandhi really believes that. This attitude has to change if the Congress makes any effort to be the core of the opposition unity. Only a one-for-one formula can defeat the BJP in the 2019 poll and for that the Congress has to recognise the ground reality and come to adjustments with the other opposition parties. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has no scruples and the BJP leadership is resorting to the communalization of the polity to polarize the voters.
This has given some dividends to the BJP in the Karnataka assembly elections and it is quite clear that the Sangh Parivar will go all out to implement this strategy on a national scale before the Lok Sabha poll. If the opposition parties, especially the secular forces have to combat this BJP onslaught, they have to unite on the basis of a common minimum programme and challenge the divisive agenda of the BJP.
The task is difficult but it has to be done and there is no other alternative without total unity. The more is the extent of opposition unity, more are the chances of defeating the BJP decisively. The Congress led by Rahul Gandhi and the regional opposition parties leaders have to work out that common minimum understanding that can ensure channelising of anti-BJP votes to one candidate of the opposition. If this is not possible, the next course is to ensure that the strongest opposition candidate gets the support of the other opposition parties in maximum number of constituencies.
The resolve has to be there among the opposition parties that this is a do or die battle and only the defeat of BJP in 2019 poll can salvage the Indian nation and its core values.
The writer is an independent journalist. The views are personal.