The upcoming Opposition meet in Bengaluru witnesses a significant surge in the number of parties participating, with the count now reaching an impressive 24. The possible attendance of Mamata Banerjee and MK Stalin adds further weight to this gathering. Together, they collectively represent 150 seats in Parliament, making them a formidable force on the political landscape. The growing unity demonstrates a concerted effort to challenge the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With the 2024 general elections on the horizon, the Opposition's collective aim is to at least double their presence in Parliament, which they believe would signal the beginning of the end game for Modi.
The first meeting held in Patna on June 23 in which 15 parties attended lost much of its sheen when the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) split vertically with a faction led by Ajit Pawar aligning itself with the BJP. Such internal divisions can pose challenges to opposition unity. Nevertheless, it is crucial to recognise that political alliances and realignments are not uncommon in the run-up to elections, and parties often engage in strategic manoeuvring to maximise their electoral prospects. Another potential development on the horizon is the possible alignment of Chirag Paswan, leader of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), with the BJP. What this implies is that the political landscape is ever-evolving, and alliances can shift and change based on various factors, including regional dynamics and individual party strategies.
It is easy to claim that the parties would be guided by the principle of one for all and all for one when it comes to division of seats. Theoretically, it is possible to prevent division of Opposition votes that favours the ruling BJP. The challenges are many as can be inferred from the Aam Aadmi Party’s insistence that the Congress should support the party’s stand on the Centre’s ordinance that deprives the Kejriwal government of its control of the civil services. The Congress leadership in Delhi has a different take on the ordinance. Similarly, after the bitter fight the CPM and the Congress had with the Trinamool Congress in the recent three-tier panchayat elections in West Bengal, it is difficult for them to join hands with the TMC to defeat the BJP. But, then, they also realise that if they do not come together, Modi will have the last laugh, a situation they want to avert at any cost.