The pichda (backward), Dalit and alpasankhyak (minority) outreach that he is proposing, to oust the BJP from UP’s 80 seats, is unlikely to yield any dividends as the BJP has already established its heft among the Dalits and backwards. Only the minorities may swing the SP’s way but as Akhilesh pointed out, the Opposition must recognise the necessity to leave the field in individual states to the strongest players. With the BSP, AIMIM and Congress all ready to play spoiler, any consolidation of minority votes appears unlikely in UP. BSP supremo Mayawati has already rubbished the PDA formula as Parivar Dal Alliance. There has been no positive response from other Opposition parties either even as 2024 inches ever closer. Any cohesive deal for Opposition unity has to be struck now or it will be too late.
While the Congress’ handsome victory in the Karnataka Assembly election proved to be a boost for Opposition efforts, neither the Congress nor other parties can afford to rest on the laurels of individual victories in states or bypolls. A concerted strategy is the need of the hour. Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee’s suggestion that in the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the Congress should focus on 200 seats where it is in direct contest with the BJP while leaving regional parties to face the saffron party in the remaining seats appears to be a sensible one. Egos must be sacrificed at the altar of unity of purpose.
In the previous two general elections in 2014 and 2019, the BJP got only 37% of the votes but yet won 300 plus seats, courtesy the first-past-the-post system. The remaining votes were divided among various parties clearly delineating how a fractured Opposition benefitted the saffron party. It is imperative that the Opposition parties get their act together. A common agenda and a plan of action for electoral strategy are the need of the hour. There is no dearth of talent in the Opposition ranks — what is sorely missing is the drive to work for a united goal. Platitudes are mouthed about defeating the politics of hate and communalism but there is no common message about how this will be brought about. There has to be singular purpose in the Opposition to being the BJP’s nearly unstoppable juggernaut to a convincing halt. Whether it has the determination to do so remains to be seen.