The swearing-in ceremony of Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy as Karnataka chief minister, set the stage for a show of strength among opposition parties.
Chief Ministers of Punjab, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and West Bengal were in attendance besides a host of other regional leaders. The message was clear – this is the beginning of a political formation to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2019 general election.
The BJP alone won 282 seats with a vote share of 31.34 percent in the 2014 elections, becoming the first party in 30 years to get a majority on its own. The Congress was reduced to 44 seats — its worst electoral performance ever.
If major opposition parties come together ahead of next year’s election, statistically they may be able to challenge the BJP and its allies. But that’s easier said than done, said political analyst Neerja Choudhury, adding that a lot would depend on how long the Kumaraswamy government lasts in Karnataka. “If the Congress and JD(S) manage to keep their coalition going at least till the Lok Sabha elections, the opposition unity will get a filip”, says Neerja. A collapse of this coalition would prove to voters that “khichdis do not work”.
Political analyst Amitabh Tiwari cautioned that while it is relatively easier for regional parties to form an alliance, the issue becomes complicated when the Congress is involved. “Congress is in direct contest with these regional parties is many states like Odisha, Kerala, Telangana and West Bengal,” said Tiwari.
Optics are good but one-to-one contest in 543 seats will be difficult. In 200 seats this is not possible at all.Amitabh Tiwari, Political Analyst
But the weakest link for the opposition is the lack of a clear leader, Choudhury pointed out. That’s critical given that the BJP fought and won the 2014 campaign riding almost entirely on the persona of Narendra Modi, she said.
Tiwari agreed. The politicians who congregated at the swearing-in ceremony today are each strong regional leaders in their own right. And that makes the choice of an opposition leader a tricky one, he said, adding that a “leaderless” opposition would boost the BJP’s chances of repeating its 2014 electoral success.
Watch the full interview here.