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As Opposition scrambles for unity, here’s PM Modi’s plan to win 2024



As Opposition scrambles for unity, here’s PM Modi’s plan to win 2024

As Opposition scrambles for unity, here’s PM Modi’s plan to win 2024

On June 23, when Opposition leaders meet at the Patna conclave, PM Modi will be in the US. But that doesn’t mean BJP is taking the unity threat lightly, especially when there are reports of friction within the NDA.

On June 23, leaders of about 20 Opposition parties—including the Congress, the AAP and the TMC—would be on one stage in Patna to display unity. During the show, the Opposition leaders, many of them sparring with one another so far, would be identifying areas of consensus to jointly fight the ruling BJP in the 2024 national polls.

On the other hand, also on June 23, PM Narendra Modi will address a gathering of Indian Americans in Washington on the role of the diaspora in India’s growth story. But that doesn’t mean the BJP is ignoring perhaps the biggest anti-Modi spectacle in recent times back home, and its potential implications. His advisors will, of course, be feeding him snapshots and sound bites from Patna.

India’s political Opposition has so far remained fragmented by prime ministerial ambitions, stated or otherwise, of leaders such as AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, Mamata Banerjee of the TMC and Congress’s Rahul Gandhi. Even right before the Patna conclave, the formula of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is sweating it out to corral anti-BJP forces into one camp to defeat Modi, is facing opposition.

For example, the AAP has said it wouldn’t contest this year’s polls in states such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan only if the Congress didn’t fight the national polls in its strongholds of Delhi and Punjab. Similarly, Mamata Banerjee isn’t going to leave out too many seats for the Congress in West Bengal. This is when Nitish has proposed that in 2024, there should be a joint Opposition candidate, backed by all anti-Modi forces, for each of the BJP faces.

It’s a state of play that’s benefited the BJP the most, apart from PM Modi’s popularity, the Hindutva push and the governance blitz. Now, the long-term “threat” of a third term for PM Modi, coupled with the short-term crisis of arrests of some anti-BJP leaders by central investigating agencies, has forced Opposition forces into coming together.

This is when the BJP is facing ally problems within the NDA. In Maharashtra, the BJP is upset after a Sena advertisement called its Chief Minister Eknath Shinde more popular than his deputy Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP, the senior partner in the coalition government. In Tamil Nadu, ally AIADMK passed a resolution against state BJP chief Annamalai over his remarks on Jayalalithaa.

Already, the BJP’s internal surveys have shown that it could suffer losses in states such as Bihar where it has lost its partner, the JDU. And while in Maharashtra, Shinde, along with many Sena MLAs and MPs, has joined hands with the BJP, there are still some loyalists sticking around with the Thackerays now opposed to the NDA.

So, what is the BJP doing? If the Opposition is scrambling for unity, the BJP is doing the same within the NDA. This follows directions from PM Modi during a recent meeting with CMs and deputy CMs of BJP-ruled states.

And the results are showing. The Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP, which exited the NDA in 2018 over the Centre's refusal to grant special status to Andhra Pradesh, is planning to return to the BJP-led alliance. Naidu is no longer a PM hopeful. Also, when he quit the Modi government five years ago, he thought the move would help him win the southern state. It didn’t happen.

Naidu has reportedly met BJP president JP Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi to discuss an alliance ahead of the Telangana polls later this year and of course 2024. Talks are also on to welcome back Punjab’s Shiromani Akali Dal, which quit the NDA in 2020 in protest against three agricultural reforms bills, into the alliance. Both TDP and the Akalis were founding members of the NDA. Reports also had it that the JDS in Karnataka could join the saffron grouping.

But it’s not only the big parties that the BJP may want to see back in the NDA. There are smaller groupings, with past NDA links, which could prove significant because of their caste appeals.

Source: indiatoday

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