INDIA 2024 fault line goes via five states. But Mamata Banerjee is showing the way
In West Bengal, Kerala, Tripura, Delhi, and Punjab, the strains within INDIA are likely to be the most stressful.
Monideepa Banerjie, (Edited by Prashant)
In the immediate afterglow of the bonhomie in Karnataka, the fault lines may be buried. But can INDIA or Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, the newly created front of 26 opposition parties, united by their objective of challenging Narendra Modi, survive the stress and strains within?
In West Bengal, Tripura Kerala, Delhi, and Punjab, the strains within INDIA are likely to be the most stressful. Political rivals will have to bury the hatchet and agree on sharing seats so that the fight against the BJP in 2024 doesn’t become defused.
So far as West Bengal is concerned, the CPM has been unequivocal. INDIA notwithstanding, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) will continue to electorally fight against the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the state. A range of top CPM leaders – Sitaram Yechury, Brinda Karat, and CPM Bengal chief Mohammed Salim – have spoken their mind following the Karnataka meeting.
“I had suggested the name We for India. All agreed that it was a good slogan but INDIA would be a better name. In English, the last alphabet was A, therefore the use of the term alliance. But this is not an electoral alliance,” Yechury said in an interview with Ganashakti, the CPI-M’s newspaper.
Yechury added that the Left will fight against both the BJP and TMC in Bengal. “We will seek the support of Congress and other parties. In Kerala, there will be a Left versus Congress contest. Each state has its own reality,” he added, leaving nothing to imagination.
The Bengaluru bonhomie
The Bengal Congress has not said anything as decisive. Even its usually outspoken state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is one of Mamata Banerjee’s worst critics, appears to be holding his horses. All he has spoken about is the lack of connection between what has happened in Bengaluru and what is happening in Bengal.
But then the bonhomie on display between Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, and Mamata Banerjee at the Bengaluru meeting was hard to miss. It was a repeat of the warmth that was on show at the Patna meeting.
In the past, Banerjee made no bones about cold-shouldering Rahul Gandhi. He, too, was unsparing. Most recently, in the Meghalaya assembly election, Gandhi went to the state just once to campaign. His speech was notable, because he spent most of the time attacking not the ruling National People’s Party (NPP), but the TMC. He had his reasons. The TMC had wooed away most of Congress’ MLAs – 12 out of 17. A repeat of Goa and Tripura. And Congress was peeved.
In Bengal, Adhir Chowdhury has been peeved with the TMC for a long time, ever since the latter started draining the Congress of its MLAs after a fallout in 2013. Campaigning for the panchayat election that year, CM Banerjee said it had been a mistake to ally with the Congress in the 2009 Lok Sabha and 2011 assembly elections. In the 2011 assembly election, TMC had won 185 and Congress 42 out of the 294 seats. Today, the Congress’ tally is zero. The party did win the Sagardighi bypoll in March this year, but within two months, the Congress MLA joined the TMC, reducing the Congress to “a signboard party” in Bengal.
A shift before 2024
However, a change is in the air, apparent in Kolkata, three days after the birth of INDIA in Bengaluru. At her annual martyrs’ day rally on 21 July, Mamata Banerjee did not attack the Congress even once in her speech, and the CPM was mentioned in passing. Her main and scathing thrust was against the BJP and Modi. It was a departure from the past when all three parties were always targeted by her, to a lesser or greater degree, yes, but never so sharply focused only on the BJP as this time.
Referring to the violence in Manipur, her harshest lunge at the BJP was, “Aap log insan ko hatya karne ka saudagar ho”.
For INDIA, the run-up to the 2024 election will not be a path strewn with roses. In Bengal, the TMC will be grappling with Congress and the Left on seat-sharing, so too in Tripura. In Kerala, the Congress and the Left will be facing off directly; in Punjab and Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress will be in confrontation.
But what has dawned on the 26 opposition parties of INDIA is that Tagore’s iconic song, Ekla Cholo Re, is all very well but with a political foe like Modi and the BJP, a joint venture is likely to be more effective. In political terms, a coalition. India has seen a string of coalition formations since 1989 – led by VP Singh, Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee twice, IK Gujral, Deve Gowda, and Manmohan Singh. From 2014, the ruling alliance was one too but only in name. INDIA does have more effective precedents to follow.
The author is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. She tweets @Monideepa62. Views are personal.
Courtesy : The Print
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