Opposition unity is tough to achieve, even tougher is for opposition to counter Modi in a national vote

Bihar’s chief minister Nitish Kumar scotched speculation that he was positioning himself as an opposition PM candidate in 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Instead, he claimed that he is trying to unite political parties opposed to BJP. It’s a role that the late HS Surjeet, former general secretary of CPM, effectively executed between 1996 and 2004 when United Front and UPA coalitions were formed after the Lok Sabha elections threw up a split verdict.

There’s no doubting Nitish’s political savvy. He’s been Bihar CM time and again with different coalition partners, and while leading a political party that was never the dominant one in the state. However, savvy may not be enough. Even if, a big if, a united opposition bloc is forged before the 2024 general election, unlike 1996 and 2004, it will be a tall order to form a government. There are good reasons to argue that comparisons with earlier coalitions are irrelevant. The advent of Modi to national leadership has been accompanied by a transformation of LS contests as ones akin to a presidential contest. It’s no exaggeration to say the choice in LS 2024 will be mainly about the PM’s post rather than the political party or individual candidate.

Consider the outcomes of three assembly elections between 2018 and 2020 with LS 2019 polls. In Karnataka’s 2018 assembly polls, BJP emerged as the largest party with a 36.2% vote share, which was more than a percentage point lower than Congress. In the 2019 general election, BJP swept Karnataka with 51.4% vote share. In the same election, BJP’s vote share in Haryana was 58%. A few months later, in the 2019 Haryana assembly election, BJP’s vote share was just 36.5% and it couldn’t secure a simple majority on its own.

This has happened twice in Delhi. BJP swept the 2019 LS election with 57% vote share. Eight months later, AAP swept the assembly elections with 54% vote share. In contemporary politics, a high incidence of voters in key battleground states now shift political support between assembly and LS elections. It will be the fundamental difference between the 2024 general election and the ones in the 1990s and the noughties. Nitish, therefore, may find greater odds stacked against him as kingmaker than those times when he was in Bihar and Modi was in Gujarat.


This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.


#Opposition #unity #tough #achieve #tougher #opposition #counter #Modi #national #vote

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Language »