Games before polls

The fragmented Opposition, mostly led by powerful dynasts, was groping in the dark even as the next round of assembly polls and even the parliament elections are fast approaching. The central government was virtually on assault mode, targeting several key figures in the Opposition with a new frenzy. The icing on the cake for the ruling side came in the form of the “speedy” disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from Parliament. These series of actions should have re-energized the Opposition to put up a façade of unity and take on the ruling BJP head on. Indications, however, are that this is wishful thinking. Note the lukewarm manner in which the non-Congress opposition protested against the events leading up to Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification. They are there and yet not there with any kind of vehemence. This was time for them to provide a boost to Rahul Gandhi’s sinking morale.
The way things were shaping up in recent weeks had the unmistakable stamp of a calculated offensive against the principal opposition party – the Congress. However, the Centre also hit two birds with one stone, arresting Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and tightening the noose around K Kavitha, daughter of Telangana chief minister Chandrashekar Rao in what is branded as the Delhi liquor scam. Embarrassment on both Arvind Kejriwal and Rao is all too visible and both are wary; proof enough that the ED was not barking up the wrong tree. The UP opposition stalwarts are lying low and so is Mamata Banerjee caught in matters like the Bengal coal scam. Central agencies are also knocking at the doors of the Lalu family in Bihar. ED is investigating crucial matters related to leftist chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan though he has no national clout. Coming on top of all these is the predicament that the top leader of the principal opposition, Rahul Gandhi, has landed himself in.
Question now is, with as much baggage on the shoulders of the Opposition parties, how would these survive and thrive if they stand apart and spite each other. Assembly elections that would set the tone for the 2024 parliament polls are worth a watch. The BJP has retained power in Tripura and overall maintained some hold elsewhere in the North-East too in the recent polls, but the next round is crucial. The Congress hopes to retain Rajasthan and wrest power in Karnataka. Madhya Pradesh too might witness anti-incumbency trends. Yet, only a united opposition can hope to upset the BJP applecart at the national level for the reason that issues like ‘Adani’ might not give them the winning edge.

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