Dividing the opposition
PM-post aspirant Mamata Banerjee has not shaken the western metropolis with a previously scheduled and politically loaded visit, but she has put the Grand Old Party on notice. It was not the BJP, per se, that was targeted during her public appearances there, but the Congress party and in particular Rahul Gandhi. In other words, realization is dawning on her that in order to win the gaddi in Delhi, she must first make mincemeat out of the main Opposition party and then take on the principal rival for power, the BJP. The strategy could be her own, or dictated to her by strategist, Prashant Kishor. Either way, the Congress party has experienced a jerk in a starker manner.
Her poser, “What is UPA? There is no UPA”, is a signal that she’s planning another Opposition alliance to be at its head. While the TMC is not with the Congress, parties like the DMK and the National Conference are with the UPA; Lalu Prasad in Bihar could again back the alliance and so would some regional parties in the North East and elsewhere as also the two Communist parties. The strength of the Congress party is its pan-India presence and appeal, village to village, city to city. NCP leader Sharad Pawar, whom she met in Mumbai, made this clear and stressed that keeping all together, mainly the Congress, is the way forward to defeat the BJP in the 2024 parliament polls. No one can “kill” the Congress. Banerjee, her mind preoccupied by the PM- ambition, chooses to ignore this aspect. This could be ‘Advantage BJP’, as some Congress leaders have stressed.
Banerjee and Kishor elsewhere have trained their guns on Rahul Gandhi and in a choreographed manner as part of this strategy. Banerjee’s argument was that one in politics should take things seriously and cannot be on frequent foreign jaunts; and Kishor suffixed it with a statement that leadership of the Congress is not the “divine right” of an individual. More attacks on Rahul Gandhi and the Congress from the Mamata enterprise can be expected from now on. Integral to democracy is debate; and politics evolves through a process of churning. Nothing wrong about this, other than that this is now music to the BJP’s ears. The 2019 parliament polls were marked by Opposition disunity. Prashant Kishor would know better as to which opposition parties can come together to put up a united opposition against the BJP in 2024. A united opposition is therefore what the TMC should be focussed on. If the Congress does not want to play ball, there is no other way for the TMC but to proceed without it.