The opposition parties finally chose Yashwant Sinha as their candidate for the next presidential elections. This, after NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, NC leader Farooq Abdullah and former diplomat and Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi turned down offers to become the opposition candidate. While the ruling BJP is comfortably placed for the presidential elections and Sinha’s candidacy will not change that, the exercise of the opposition is once again seen as a test of their unity.
That said, the main problem with opposition unity is that its political calculations do not match its ambitions. Because many opposition parties are in direct competition with Congress in state polls. This is true for Trinamool Congress, AAP, Akali Dal, TRS and even the left. In fact, TRS, BJD, AAP, Akali Dal and YSRCP abstained from selecting a united opposition candidate in the presidential election. But an anti-BJP bloc without Congress doesn’t work either. After all, the Congress still has the second largest number of MPs in the country after the BJP.
Therefore, the only way for a united opposition to pose a serious political challenge to the BJP today is for the Congress to start winning in North and West India. These are areas where Congress is in direct competition with the BJP for a large chunk of seats. But if the Congress plans to cede this political space and focus on southern and eastern India where the BJP is relatively weaker, it will again face the problem of taking on the regional parties it hopes will they will be part of the national anti-BJP coalition. However, there are few signs of any congressional revival in North and West India. The loss of Punjab, the failure of the BJP overthrow in Uttarakhand and the dismal performance of the UP highlight the downward graph of the Congress. Unless that changes, the opposition unity exercise will be in vain.
Read also: Presidential elections: Yashwant Sinha co-candidate of the opposition
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