Reported By: Pallavi Ghosh
Last Updated: April 12, 2023, 07:30 IST
A five-letter surname has carved a fissure in the opposition ranks.
While the budget session of parliament showed a semblance of unity among opposition parties, by the time the session was over, the inherent differences were out in the open.
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Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar was the first to make it clear that the opposition must go by real issues which hurt people such as price rise and unemployment. He made it clear that fake degrees and Adani Group allegations were non-issues. A feeling echoed by Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee as well. And some other parties, such as the Shiv Sena (UBT) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and so on, do agree in private.
And there is a history to it.
Rahul Gandhi’s pet slogan based on Rafale — ‘chowkidar chor hai’ — had not clicked. While Gandhi blamed his party for not pushing the slogan enough, at a post-mortem meeting, many opposition party leaders conceded that any slogan which attacked the prime minister and called him corrupt would only boomerang against him. As the 2019 results showed.
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So the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would be quite happy if the Congress and opposition keep harping on the Adani issue as it would help them to replay the 2019 narrative in favour of the PM. Astute politicians such as Pawar and Banerjee see the writing on the wall, but not Rahul Gandhi.
‘PERSONAL ATTACK MODE’
In private, many Congress leaders are aware of the risk if the 2024 campaign runs on the Adani and “corrupt PM” issue. But with Gandhi’s obsession with it, it is tough for anyone to dispute him. Some like Anand Sharma have learnt it the hard way not to voice their opinion, as he was picked on by the Gandhi siblings during the CWC meeting in 2019 and was accused of not supporting the ‘chowkidar chor hai’ movement. In private, many in G-23 also made the point that personal attacks don’t work.
But an angry Gandhi refuses to listen to this reason. So much so that many in opposition like Pawar have come under attack from the Congress.
Alka Lamba, for example, in a veiled attack has accused Pawar of being greedy for power and hence not taking on the BJP.
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This, some fear, may endanger any scope for an opposition alliance and could keep some opposition leaders away.
Despite the fact that Sonia Gandhi, in a column, reached out to like-minded parties, Gandhi’s stubborn resolve over the Adani issue may come at a cost — alliance not being built.
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