With the political turmoil and meetings that have been going on, it is rather very clear that a strong United Opposition against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is being formed on the national level.
As talks to unite the anti-BJP front ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections have intensified in the past several days, the idea of a united front against the BJP had already gained a lot of strength after the defeat of the BJP in the West Bengal assembly elections.
The Modi government faced heavy criticism for the handling of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ever-rising inflation and deep challenges before the economy.
All these circumstances have provided fertile ground for shaping the proposed new front of the opposition.
In a battle of personality between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, Modi has been successful almost every time, and they have poured a lot of money to keep it successful. So the question of who will become the new face of the opposition has become very important. In such a situation, the political activism of Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee is attracting a lot of attention.
Though it is not yet clear who will lead the United opposition that will comprise various prominent left parties in India, speculations are being made about either Mamata Banerjee or Sharad Pawar being the face of the United Opposition.
Mamata Banerjee has returned to Kolkata after a recent three-day visit to Delhi. During her stay in Delhi, she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nitin Gadkari, Sonia Gandhi, and various prominent national leaders and leaders of the opposition.
A mutual meeting between Mamata Banerjee and Sharad Pawar didn’t happen. But sources related to both the leaders said that they may meet soon.
Both the leaders, i.e. Mamata Banerjee and Sharad Pawar were able to stop the BJP from coming to power in their respective states with their political precision in strategy making.
Where Sharad Pawar resorted to ‘inclusive politics’ to keep the BJP out of power and fulfilled his aim by bringing NCP-Shiv Sena-Congress together, Mamata Banerjee used her aggressive power in West Bengal to achieve her goal. By doing this, she has become the Chief Minister on her own for the third time.
Pawar has recently met several opposition leaders in Delhi to set up a new political platform called Rashtra Manch. Mamata Banerjee has also made such an effort during her Delhi tour.
Prashant Kishor, Mamata Banerjee’s strategist in the West Bengal assembly elections, has met Sharad Pawar several times in the last few weeks.
Sharad Pawar has always been on the list of contenders for the Prime Minister for the last several years. Whether he was in Congress or even after leaving Congress. Even after the BJP formed the government twice under the leadership of Narendra Modi, Sharad Pawar’s name has always remained in the discussion.
Sharad Pawar is one of the few leaders who has shown the ability to unite the anti-BJP forces. Not only does he have political and administrative experience, but he is also well versed in coalition politics.
Whenever there was talk of a third front other than the Congress and the BJP, only Pawar’s name has come to the fore. In such a situation, when Sharad Pawar started meeting people in the last few months, he was asked whether he was planning a new front.
Pawar himself has never accepted that efforts were being made. During a press conference after the Rashtra Manch meeting, he said that he has made similar strategies many times in the past and is no longer inclined to do it again.
However, Nawab Malik, leader of Pawar’s party National Congress Party, said that Sharad Pawar is talking to many people to shape the anti-BJP front in the country.
Pawar has good relations with almost all the parties and their leaders. Whether they remain in power, he has maintained communication with both Narendra Modi and Sonia Gandhi.
Coalition politics demands that its leader has the ability to take everyone along. And Pawar has shown the efficiency to do so in the past. For example, when he used ‘inclusive politics’ with Shiv Sena, which has been a rival of his party NCP for over two decades in Maharashtra.
He not only got his party included in the government, but also stopped the BJP from forming the government.
There are also speculations that Pawar might become the candidate of the opposition camp in the 2022 presidential election. This gives the base for the questions about whether the United Opposition for the 2024 elections will take shape in 2022.
Similarly Mamata Banerjee has also made efforts to build a front of opposition parties at the national level.
Mamata showed that, just like the BJP, other parties can also take an aggressive stand in the electoral arena. Like Pawar, he also showed that elections can be won even when party men leave his side and join the BJP.
Mamata’s election campaign and her victory spread her popularity across the country. Being the only active and successful female opposition against the BJP is also a major factor.
It is also believed that Mamata Banerjee is close to people in all parties. She also has good relations with Sonia Gandhi.
However, Mamata Banerjee is seen to be an aggressive leader, which can act as a hindrance in the way of inclusive politics, as her attitude has created hurdles several times during the earlier alliances.
It remains to be seen whether Mamata Banerjee can show the political fortitude like Sharad Pawar while forming a front for the opposition parties.
After the Delhi tour, she said that now the time has come for a ‘Khela Hobe’ at the national level. She also announced that from now onwards, she would visit Delhi after every few months.
After her win in Bengal and active meetings and interactions with opposition party leaders, Mamata shows the potential of being the face of the united opposition.
Uttar Pradesh elections and the presidential election will prove to be the test for all equations. The role of Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee in these elections will decide the direction of all the possibilities of politics ahead.