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Leaderless Opposition United Under Sharad Yadav, Divided On Agenda

In Delhi, opposition led by the Congress is now banking on Sharad Yadav to be that crucial fulcrum of opposition unity before 2019 polls.

Sumit Pande | News18.com

Updated:August 17, 2017, 1:51 PM IST
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Leaderless Opposition United Under Sharad Yadav, Divided On Agenda
Rahul Gandhi is attending the day-long conclave being organized by Sharad Yadav faction of the Janata Dal (United). (TV Grab)
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In sharp contrast to the raucous scenes often witnessed in the two Houses, the library hall in the main building of the Parliament House in known for maintaining strict decorum. The high-ceilinged foyer right opposite the Central Hall is also the favorite haunt for MPs during summer months. When hot loo from the Thar incessantly sweeps past the national capital, it is here in these hallowed chambers that politicians meet journalists — confer with them in hushed tones and casually pass off information they desperately are seeking to put in the public domain. Everything though is strictly off-the-record.

In one such rendezvous during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, a Left Front MP told a group of reporters that the Congress Party was talking to all non-NDA parties to build opposition unity against the NDA.

“Rahul Gandhi met me to seek views. I told him that Congress as the main opposition party should take the lead,” said the MP.

Since then, in the past six months, a lot of water has flowed down the Yamuna. At that time, Nitish Kumar was still with the UPA. It was a time when Congress Vice-President accorded great value to his party’s relations with the JD(U) leader.

Now, Nitish Kumar, after a short cameo, is firmly ensconced with the BJP.

And Rahul Gandhi is attending the day-long conclave being organized by Sharad Yadav faction of the Janata Dal (United). Yadav is the new torchbearer of opposition unity against Modi-Shah duo.

In the interim, since the Congress party first initiated talks to stitch a pan-India anti-BJP front, the opposition has met on many occasions on various pretext. There was a meeting to finalise a joint candidate against NDA’s President-nominee. Nitish Kumar took the wind out of the sail before Meira Kumar could even board the ship and chart the course.

A similar script played out during VP elections.

A fortnight later, a preemptive step by Sharad Yadav and his supporters to wrest control of the JD(U) has become another platform for opposition unity. Nearly all non-NDA parties have decided to send in representatives to show solidarity with Sharad Yadav who seems to have picked up the baton after Nitish Kumar’s home run back to the BJP camp.

But opposition unity for what? For a photo-op!

Almost nine months before he left the UPA, Nitish Kumar had on multiple occasions warned against the perils of boarding a rudderless ship. He said it in the aftermath of the midnight demonetisation. He said it over and over again, that opposition should be more proactive rather than responsive in dealing with the BJP. That non-BJP parties should set their own agenda and force government to respond and not vise-versa.

After ten years of UPA, BJP worked on a well-defined two-tier campaign which culminated in an emphatic victory in May 2014. In the first phase, the party underscored omissions and commissions of Manmohan Singh government. The second phase focused on the alternative agenda. It was about hope, about employment, about development.

With less than 24 months left for the next general elections, what is the opposition narrative vis-à-vis the BJP? What are the issues which Congress and friends will take to the people of country when they seek votes two years from now? No one really knows.

Comparatively, seasoned regional satraps in the opposition ranks have been more successful in knitting an agenda of their own in taking on a fledging saffron front. Siddaramaiah in Karnataka is experimenting with soft sub-nationalism. In Bengal, Didi has held on to her own in taking on the BJP. In Punjab, Amrinder Singh could build a local vs outsider narrative to drive home his point.

In Delhi, opposition led by the Congress is now banking on Sharad Yadav to be that crucial fulcrum of opposition unity before 2019 polls.

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| Edited by: Ananya Chakraborty
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