Known for his frequent U-turns at convenient times, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has returned to BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) again this time. He made the move when only a few months are left for the crucial parliamentary (Lok Sabha) elections.
Till recently a strong advocate of united opposition against BJP in polls, Nitish Kumar’s departure is a major setback to the opposition’s Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A). This development has further consolidated the position of BJP ahead of the elections. This also indicates where exactly the poll scenario at national level is heading to and what can be the results.
The open confrontation between Congress and West Bengal chief minister and Trinmol Congress supremo Mamta Banerjee during Rahul Gandhi’ “Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra” in her state is also disheartening those in the opposition, who were intending to put some kind of resistance against BJP in the coming polls. The Bihar chief minister’s move and bickering among some other I.N.D.I.A allies has sent out a loud and clear message to the divided and demoralised opposition camp that what is in store for them in coming months.
Political analysts believe that Congress could not strengthen itself the way it should have to lead other smaller opposition parties and inspire them. Its leaders despite their individual level hard efforts may be finding it difficult to stand against the very strong public support for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his powerful popularity at the national level. Time and situation do not seem in favour and side of the Congress right now.
The main opposition party is trying to raise the problems and issues being faced by the common people. But such attempts are neither clicking nor creating any impact. This can be because of the fact that BJP has been able to keep all its major poll promises, which seem having more mass appeal. By doing that the ruling party at the centre has left hardly any space for Congress to get significant public support more particularly in the Hindi belt.
Under these circumstances, Congress instead of listening more to the smaller opposition parties and making adjustments with them, wants to do things on its own against the BJP. But such a strategy is proving ineffective with every passing day. This approch suits the interests of BJP, which wants opposition to disintegrate further and not to become a united force under Congress.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the three major opposition political parties National Conference (NC), PDP and Pradesh Congress Committee (Congress) seem disheartened with what is happening with I.N.D.I.A bloc. NC and PDP had joined the opposition alliance at national level with a hope that it may help to replace the BJP’s rule at the centre. But that seems totally impossible now. Feeling that the I.N.D.I.A bloc is getting weakened with time, the NC, PDP and JKPCC are gearing up to go solo in the parliamentary polls for the five parliamentary seats in Jammu and Kashmir. Even as these parties still continue to swear by the I.N.D.I.A allies’ unity and say they are still part of the alliance, but on ground they are making full fledged preparations to contest on their own.
They are also dropping hints in this regard through their veiled statements. In a way the three parties have closed the seat sharing arrangement option atleast for the seats in Kashmir. NC leader, Hasnain Masoodi, during a recent media interaction in Jammu indirectly hinted that his party will contest on all the three seats Srinagar, Baramulla and Anantnag-Rajouri-Poonch.
When asked about any possibility regarding seat sharing among I.N.D.I.A allies in J&K, he said it is very much obvious that a party (from I.N.D.I.A bloc) would contest this time also from those Lok Sabha seats, which it had won in last ( 2019) polls. “ About the seats won by BJP led NDA in last polls, we will talk and decide about the seat sharing in such constituencies,” he added.
In last elections, NC had bagged Srinagar, Baramulla and Anantnag seats, while BJP Jammu and Udhampur.
Indirectly reacting to Hasnain Masoodi’s remarks, a PDP spokesperson in a statement has said that the “coming elections should also promote voices that can represent the sentiments of the people in highest democratic forum of our country and seek effective measures to restore their democratic rights.” The statement was issued after the PDP’s core group meeting, convened by party president Mehbooba Mufti to discuss strategy for Lok Sabha polls and other political issues. The core group talked about “restoring PDP’s premier position as a major and credible representative of people of all the regions of J&K.” With its latest posturing the party has made its intentions clear that it is ready even also to contest from the two seats in Jammu region.
Congress has also started making election related preparations. Several meetings were held by the party leaders in Baramulla, Anantnag, Jammu and Udhampur districts. More such meetings are in the pipeline in coming times.
While NC leaders and workers too are continuing with their preparations, but they are also waiting for their two senior leaders, Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah to lead them again after their return from Saudi Arabia, where they have gone to perform”Umrah.”
Though not part of the major opposition camp in J&K, Ghulam Nabi Azad’s Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) has reiterated that it will contest from all the five seats. The party said it is doing so to have a representation in the parliament to address the pressing issues of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Azad has been promising to protect the rights of the people of J&K on land and jobs.
Apni Party led by Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari and People’s Conference headed by Sajad Gani Lone had recently announced to form an electoral alliance. However, the two parties are busy in election related preparations at individual level right now. Later, they may campaign jointly.
BJP has vigorously launched its campaign across Jammu and Kashmir. Some election related appointments were also made recently in the party. The party is confident to win again Jammu and Udhampur seats and is also focussing on Anantnag - Rajouri- Poonch constituency in an attempt to increase its tally this time.