Will this Opposition unity continue in 2019?

The by-elections to the four Lok Sabha Seats and 11 Assembly seats, results of which were out on Thursday, have made two issues clear – the mood of the nation is against Narendra Modi and in favour of the unity of the Opposition parties, including the Congress. The regional and national parties have come together in these by-elections to defeat the BJP. It is quite interesting that the BJP was defeated in the 3 Lok Sabha seats and 10 Assembly seats, a right caution to the BJP.

The BJP’s defeat started with Karnataka and now continues in the by-elections. There are elections to the three northern States this year end, where the BJP would have to prove its strength and retain its power. Being in power, the BJP might resort to every trick that will work in its favour in these three States. The election to Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh State Assemblies is seen as semi-finals for the 2019 general elections. Narendra Modi is aspiring for second term and he would have to win the election.

But, starting from Karnataka, there is a clear signal of the Opposition unity against the BJP. While there is a call for third front, an alternative to the BJP-led NDA and Congress-led UPA, it is seen mostly as a Congress-included alternative. The regional parties’ alignment too is also not possible on its own without the Congress as it was seen in Karnataka. Even the May 31 by-elections to the four Lok Sabha and 11 Assembly constituencies in the country, have also shown that Congress is required to defeat the BJP-led Modi.

Several parties, like Telugu Desam Party from Andhra Pradesh and Shiv Sena from Maharastra are in favour of BJP, but not in favour of Narendra Modi. The regional parties which are now opposing Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister candidate might change their stand if the BJP replaces Modi. There were indications from these regional parties to name someone like Rajnath Singh or Nitin Gadkhari as an alternative to Modi and if that happens, these parties would drop their alternative front plan and go back to the NDA.

The other parties, including the Left, are not seriously against the Congress. But when it comes to defeating Narendra Modi, they are together and thus Congress would have to be considered to form an anti-Modi government at the Centre after the elections. The by-elections have also proved that people are looking for the regional parties to align with the Congress to defeat Modi. But, the big question is will these parties align with the Congress or stay apart and fail to end Modi’s regime.

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