As unbridled inflation and burgeoning unemployment create doubts about the governance model of the Narendra Modi government, the number of pretenders to the throne keeps on growing.. Earlier only the Congress, though depleted in terms of members of parliament, was thought to be capable of mounting a challenge to the Narendra Modi led BJP, but now more parties are claiming to be in the pole position to dislodge the ruling dispensation. As the 2024 Lok Sabha elections draw nearer, such protestations are bound to become shriller and shriller.
The Aam Aadmi Party led by Arvind Kejriwal has not been going to town claiming to be numero ono in the political sphere, but at many places, it has been claiming that it is the main challenger to the BJP, and not the Congress or regional parties. Its tone has become more strident after its coming to power in Punjab, dislodging the Congress. The victory in Punjab showed that there are takers for its Delhi model of governance. Kejriwal’s party is also claiming to be the main challenger to the ruling BJP in the upcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
A more powerful party overall to throw its hat into the ring is Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul. After beating back the challenge from a resurgent BJP in West Bengal, it has been eyeing spreading its wings in other states. The Trinamul has also been successful in reducing the Left and the Congress to non-entities in West Bengal.But the Trinamul moves to expand its footprint have not met with much success. It tried to make a mark in Tripura and Goa but failed to come up on top. In the recently held Goa Assembly elections, it failed to displace the Congress as the main opposition. It is another matter that most of the Congress legislators later deserted the party and crossed over to the ruling BJP.
The latest to join the race to represent the opposition is Telangana Chief Minister Chandrashekhar Rao. Preparing for a tough Assembly election in his state in the coming year, he has renamed his party, the TRS as Bharat Rashtriya Samiti to claim a national role. No matter, that his party has no presence in other states.
The race to become the main challenger to the BJP is, of course, because of the realisation that the BJP is set for a difficult time till the next general elections in the country. The moves to divide society on communal lines are becoming counterproductive. Unemployment and rising prices are being seen by many people as symptomatic of mismanagement by the government. This is despite the government’s claim that inflation is a result of external factors like the war in Ukraine over which it has no control.
If the pretenders to the throne like the Aam Aadmi Party, the Trinamul and the TRS, renamed BRS, continue their fight to be numero uno in the opposition, it is going to help the ruling dispensation. The opposition needs to unite if it is to pose a challenge to the BJP. The way people have responded to the Rahul Gandhi led Bharat Jodo Yatra, it is clear that only a united opposition led by the Congress can stake a credible claim to power at the Centre.