The current political landscape in India is marked by opposition parties trying to unite to defeat the incumbent government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, recent developments suggest that the opposition’s unity efforts are facing challenges due to the lack of a common vision and self-interest being the primary driver. In this context, the meeting between regional leaders Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav is seen as a hindrance to opposition unity efforts, particularly as they are openly critical of the Congress party and trying to distance themselves from it.
The article argues that regional leaders today lack national vision and ideological conviction, unlike opposition politicians of the Congress era, who belonged to small parties but were tall in national stature. These leaders had a national perspective and were willing to sacrifice their small interests for a larger national goal. In 1977, all opposition parties except a few merged to form the Janata Party, driven by the conviction that Indira Gandhi’s dictatorial regime had to be defeated to save democracy. However, today, the opposition’s conviction is missing, and self-interest is the prime mover. This is the single most important challenge that the opposition today is facing in its fight against Modi and the BJP.
Since Congress is the biggest party in the opposition, it is duty-bound to constantly be in talks with opposition leaders and make them understand the urgency of opposition unity. Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Congress, has to corral the opposition despite the impediments. The Congress, which has been accused of arrogance while dealing with opposition parties, offered a major climb-down when Mallikarjun Kharge said in Chennai that the Congress was not stuck on leading the opposition front. Kharge, while replying to Farooq Abdullah’s statement that the Congress should not insist on the post of prime minister, said that opposition parties should sink their differences and be united to defeat the BJP at the Centre.
Priyanka Gandhi also expressed a similar sentiment at the Raipur session of the Congress when she said, “The world is looking at us (opposition) and opposition unity is needed to defeat BJP.” Rahul Gandhi, during his London visit, said, “A lot of coordination is going on with opposition parties and conversation is also happening among them.” He further said, “There are complications in many states, but the opposition is very much capable of having this discussion and resolving it.”
The article argues that Congress, as a party that has ruled the country for more than five decades, is aware of its weakness and knows that it cannot defeat the BJP on its own. Like the anti-Congress-ism of the past, anti-BJP-ism can be the only glue for opposition unity. This political clarity was absent in the Congress thought process during the 2019 general election when the opposition was a divided house, and every party was pulling in different directions. Rahul Gandhi, who was the president of the Congress at the time, was confident that the Congress alone could give a tough fight to Modi, but he proved to be wrong.
The article argues that Rahul Gandhi is a changed person, and Congress is no longer a fractured house. He has emerged as a serious politician, having earned this for himself through his hard work and sincerity. Now, accusations of entitlement will not cut the ice with people. It is this transformation of Rahul Gandhi from a so-called ‘Pappu’ to a ‘Pundit’ that is a singular achievement for Congress.
However, the article suggests that Rahul Gandhi needs to break the ice with other opposition leaders, such as Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, and Arvind Kejriwal, who are all aspiring for the prime ministerial position. He needs to involve them in a one-on-one conversation for larger unity and make them understand that leadership is not an issue at