Since his exit from NDA and the start of another stint as Bihar chief minister in alliance with RJD, regional opposition leaders are warming up to Nitish Kumar. A fortnight ago, Akhilesh Yadav had said that Nitish’s shift was a positive sign for national politics. Now comes Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s Patna visit. However, KCR refused to endorse Nitish as a potential opposition PM candidate, preferring to kick the can down the road. More farcical, however, was KCR’s formulation of a BJP-mukt Bharat. A few days ago Mamata Banerjee had also stated that the 2024 contest against BJP would be her last fight.
However, these opposition leaders need to realise that anti-BJPism may work in state elections but not at the national level. At the national level, BJP is towering over the opposition with no viable alternative in sight. A shrinking Congress and shaky regional parties are unlikely to make a dent in BJP’s national edifice, which also gains immensely from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stature. Rather than a negative agenda, voters are bound to ask what is the opposition offering them in positive terms other than the sound and fury of anti-BJPism.
So the opposition parties may have to approach it differently by framing a common political and programmatic agenda. Otherwise, the shrill anti-BJP rhetoric is hardly convincing. Most of these parties have done business with BJP when they deemed it convenient. The fact that BJP doesn’t need alliances to form its governments has evidently turned them against it. Voters seem to intuitively recognise this when they prefer a single party government than a coalition pulling in different directions. Post-poll coalitions in the past worked out common minimum programmes. The big question is whether a pre-poll alliance of opposition parties can converge on a common political manifesto.
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