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A Common Cause
In the nationwide CAA-NRC protests, the opposition parties may have found the glue that will hold them together in a grand alliance that can take on Narendra Modi’s BJP in the next big election battle.
Ajit Kumar Jha

Barely eight months ago, a pall of gloom hung over the Opposition parties when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) swept the 2019 Lok Sabha election with 353 seats, including 303 for the BJP, its highest tally ever. Today, with new activism in the air, the opposition parties are a much more enthused lot. Two currents—one emanating from the east and other from the west—have gathered enough tailwinds to propel a grand coalition (mahagathbandhan) of opposition parties into a confrontation with the Narendra Modi-led central government.

The eastern current emerges from Assam where a flawed National Register of Citizens (NRC) effectively declared 1.9 million Indians “stateless”. In both Assam and Tripura, the resultant churn led to violent protests, suspension of internet and train services and deployment of army units. The anger spread like wildfire across the country as soon as the NDA government at the Centre rammed through the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 in Parliament declared that a National Population Register (NPR) would follow soon.

The western current took shape late last year in Maharashtra, where a Shiv Sena­ NCP­-Congress alliance (the Maha Vikas Aghadi), pulled the rug from under the BJP’s feet. The swearing­in of the Uddhav Thackeray­led government on No­vember 28, 2019, was a game­changer for the opposition. The ‘invincible’ BJP had lost one of India’s largest states, and that too, ironically, by the Opposition splitting the NDA, a game which until now the saffron party had perfected. The very next month, in Jharkhand, a fierce anti­incumbency wave unseated the Raghu bar Das­led government. Twice in a row, BJP state governments lost power to an opposition coalition.

The anti­incumbency against BJP state governments can be traced back to the winter of 2018 when the party lost assembly elections in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. The general election victory in May 2019 reversed the process be­ fore Maharashtra and Jharkhand once again turned the tide. To sum up, today, the BJP’s footprint in the states has halved from 71 per cent in December 2018 to about 35 per cent now.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi was dismissed as an “oppor­tunist alliance” by BJP leaders, but in the first Mood of the Nation (MOTN) survey of 2020, 44 per cent respondents were convinced it was the rebirth of an opposition-led mahagathbandhan.


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February 03, 2020