Oppn's 'Unity Mantra' to get reinforced

Oppn's 'Unity Mantra' to get reinforced

The impressive show by the Congress, reducing the BJP to below 100 seats in Gujarat, will enthuse the Opposition to aggressively pursue the 'unity mantra' to bring around the 'doubting Thomases' in their stable.

The non-Congress opposition now believes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's electoral invincibility is shaken, and a campaign based on alternate policies and not on personalities would gain results in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

In the immediate future, the Congress will be facing the crucial Assembly polls in Karnataka with much more confidence, while pushing the speculation over Modi  advancing  the General Elections to the back-burner.

The results will make Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who reached out to Opposition leaders in a dinner meeting, more acceptable to other parties.

The Congress will be playing a more aggressive leadership role, but Opposition leaders feel that the party should not play the "big brother" based on one election and take along all others.

The result may force parties like BSP to re-think its strategy in Uttar Pradesh.

The Opposition wants to "build a narrative" on the worsening agrarian crisis, rising job loss and businesses affected by GST and demonetisation, among other "people's issues" to counter the BJP's polarising subjects that appeal to the emotions.

"Do not fall into Modi's trap" is the common refrain among leaders.

However,  some leaders of the  Opposition, such as CPM's Sitaram Yechury, TMC's Derek O'Brien and CPI's D Raja, are  determined to not  changing the contest to a Modi vs Rahul fight.

"I think the take-away is that the Opposition has to get together with a policy alternative. It can't be Modi vs Rahul. Indications (about a paradigm shift) are sufficient. But that will materialise only through a policy alternative," Yechury told DH.

O'Brien feels that  having a "personality contest" would be to "play into the BJP's hands",  which would make the contest about polarising issues.

Raja said "there is hope for the Opposition and  a policy-based initiative is what is needed".

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav emphasised the need for the Opposition "joining hands"  to take up issues of farmers and youth, while rebel JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav noted that "united efforts can give a strong fight to opponents".

RJD's Manoj K Jha believes that the Gujarat results are a "rude shock" to the Modi-Amit Shah combo,  who  "dream of an Opposition-free India".

"The message is clear. Take politics to people. Engage with real issues. People are willing to jettison individual-centred authoritarianism," he said.

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