UPA’s disintegration may benefit Modi in 2024

By K.S. Tomar

At times, political maneuvers may prove counterproductive. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee — a leader in a hurry — seems to be walking in that direction. Her recent maneuvers suffer from lack of a well thought out strategy and an unnecessary haste to race for the top leadership position in the country.

Mamata has already hit a roadblock. The Shiv Sena has hit out against her campaign to isolate Congress party from any possible joint opposition front to take on a strong BJP in the 2024 general elections. Such a crude crusade may end in a fiasco ever before it could take off.

According to Mamata Banerjee, UPA is non-existent and the Congress does not have capacity to take on the BJP. Her campaign has infuriated the Grand Old Party. Putting the record straight, the Congress hit back, pointing out that Mamata was in the company of BJP thrice.

The Shiv Sena snubbed the TMC chief, telling her point-blank that weening out the Congress while creating an opposition alliance parallel to the UPA is akin to strengthening the ruling BJP and other ‘fascist forces’. In an editorial in the party mouthpiece, ‘Saamana’, the Sena also said that leaders like Mamata should focus on clearing her stand instead of creating confusion while talking behind the curtain to various leaders.

Interestingly, Mamata’s virulent attack to discredit the Congress is being supplemented by her close advisor, Prashant Kishore. He has taken  on Rahul Gandhi, describing him as incapable of leading the joint opposition. Experts say that the campaign is designed to carve out a space for ‘Didi’ at the apex of Indian politics.

It seems to be an uphill task. Mamata is a seven-time MP, even union minister. She is qualified for the top slot but she fails to understand that politics is the art of the possible. Her area of influence is confined to West Bengal.

Didi recently engineered defections in Meghalaya where the Congress legislative party split vertically with two-time chief minister, Mukul Sangma, and 11 other MLAs joining her TMC. Creating a token presence of her party in some of the states might have encouraged her but India’s geopolitical configuration warrants more.

For all we know, the BJP may be smiling at Mamata’s attempt to target Congress. It is an open secret that the ruling party considers the Congress as its main rival, nationally.

The problem stems from Sonia Gandhi’s failure to lead the UPA because health reasons. Senior opposition leaders are hesitant to accept the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. Many a regional satrap believe that a weakened Congress does not have the capacity to take on the BJP, which has at its disposal a well-oiled machinery of RSS, vast resources and a devoted cadre of party workers.

Analysts opine that Mamata might be flying too high based on her recent showing in her home state. Compared to it, pan India presence of Congress makes it relevant to be a part of any possible joint front. Its leaders, even those who don’t see eye to eye with Rahul Gandhi, believe that a joint opposition front minus Congress may be like a body without a soul.

Mamata’s attempt to bypass UPA indicates the new strategy to rope in regional satraps like CS Rao in Telangana, Jagan Mohan Reddy in AP, Naveen Patnaik in Odisha, etc. It might have blessings of Sharad Pawar, who nurses a long-cherished dream to be PM. His supporters feel that he enjoys the stature of a national leader who can match Modi unlik Rahul Gandhi.

In this complex political scenario, opposition unity seems to be a mirage though compulsions may bring warring regional satraps together to forge a joint opposition front. Will the Congress, in such a scenario, try to have its own alliance of friendly parties?

(The writer is political analyst)

Image courtesy of (Photo courtesy India Today)

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