Code of unity that could challenge the BJP’s bid to return to power

The BJP’s sustained effort to belittle the coming together of Opposition parties is understandable

By The Editorial Board
  • Published 8.11.18, 8:02 AM
  • Updated 8.11.18, 12:03 PM
  • a min read
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Congress supporters celebrate V.S. Ugrappa's win in in Bellary, Karnataka, on Tuesday. PTI

It may have been a bit of a quiet Diwali for the Bharatiya Janata Party. The results of the bypolls in Karnataka where the ruling alliance of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) won four seats — including Bellary, a parliamentary constituency, that is supposedly the pocket borough of the BJP — may have come as a dampener for the ruling party at the Centre. The outcome has poured cold water over the prospects of the BJP’s revival in the state which, in the saffron party’s words, is being ruled by an ‘opportunistic alliance’. The BJP’s sustained effort to belittle the coming together of Opposition parties is understandable. For a mahagathbandhan by the Opposition could seriously challenge the BJP’s bid to return to power in next year’s general elections. There are unmistakable signals of public endorsement for this kind of unity. Earlier, in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party had fought and trounced the BJP together in the by-elections in Phulpur and Gorakhpur. Karnataka has shown that the momentum against the BJP can be significant when regional parties form a broad front with the Congress. If this momentum were to be sustained, the BJP — its vote share was 31 per cent in 2014 — could indeed face a problem in 2019.

Of course, there is no certainty that the Opposition would, in the end, present a united face in battle. The model of cooperation that has propped up the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka — shared interests have also brought the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party together in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana — may not be easily replicated in other parts of the country. This is because the Opposition comprises individuals who, unsurprisingly, nurse greater ambitions. Rivalry and mistrust led to the implosion of the Grand Alliance in Bihar; the BSP is competing against the Congress in the assembly elections in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. The resultant split in votes could come as a boon for the BJP, which would be hoping for similar cracks in Opposition unity next year. Whatever the outcome of the elections, it is clear that the political invincibility of national parties is a thing of the past. Electoral success is now determined, more often than not, by the strength of alliances.