The conference 'Protect Composite Culture' called by the rebel Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav on Wednesday in Delhi, is palpably his attempt to project himself as the leader of an anti-BJP front of political parties. But given his present credentials, Yadav does not seem to be the right person for the Opposition to rally behind, especially in order to carry forward an effective anti-BJP political front till the 2019 General Election to Lok Sabha.
Though Yadav did not divulge the electoral goals of the conference, the meeting among various political parties held at the Constitution Club of India in New Delhi, culminated in the consensus that the Opposition should unite to take on the BJP.
While speaking at the conference, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi indicated that BJP’s return to power can be prevented in 2019. “We are talking to Yadav and other political parties. We should unite and should fight unitedly."
"If we all fight unitedly, I can tell you they will not be seen anywhere," he added.
CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury stressed that there is an emergency-like situation in the country and a nationwide campaign should be launched to protect the composite culture of India. "Several Hindu and Muslims leaders fought against the British but this composite heritage is being threatened now," he said.
Extending his support to Yadav, he said, "We are with Yadav. If we have to save this composite culture, he will hold the key to the movement to save it. He will have to complete the task," he said.
Though the presence of stalwarts from various Opposition parties in a conference called by him may provide Yadav’s career the much-needed boost, it is difficult to believe that the rallying of the Opposition parties behind him can be sustained for long, especially at a time when his existence in politics itself is under threat.
The said meeting provides the Opposition an opportunity to present its views against the present regime, which it seems to have optimally capitalised, but leading the bandwagon successfully till 2019 General Election to Lok Sabha would require much political heft on the part of Yadav, in which he seems to be wanting.
The fiasco faced by the alliance between Samajwadi Party and Congress in the last Uttar Pradesh Assembly election leaves behind the lesson that the Opposition front needs a leader with a formidable stature than any alliance among parties merely on the basis of vote sharing. In present political scenario, Yadav is unlikely to be able to meet this demand.
It is not to say that Yadav does not have an image which is in stark contrast with the ideology of BJP. Rather, in the last two years, he has built for himself the image of a vocal leader in the Opposition.
But when it comes to searching for a unifying face of Opposition parties, Yadav’s stature is not seen at par with leaders like Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee, and Manik Sarkar.
Till he joined NDA, Nitish was seen as the possible unifying face of the Opposition by a number of political parties and not Yadav. This is enough to gauge Yadav’s actual position in the Opposition.
Even the absence of Nitish in the Opposition is not likely to provide him with the opportunity to step into his shoes. There are still leaders like Banerjee and Sarkar who enjoy higher stature in the Opposition than him. Hence the Opposition may soon discover that it is safer to rally behind such leaders than Yadav.
Besides, Yadav lost much of his support base after his recent stand-off with Nitish. Many of his supporters are suspended from the party. He has also been removed from the position of the leader of the party in the Parliament.
Due to the lack of sound support from a political party, Yadav is unlikely to be able to contribute to a possible anti-BJP front in terms of seats, as would be expected from him in an election. This may emerge as a factor to redetermine his position in such a possible front.
Moreover, the political terrain in which Yadav tread on prevents him from the opportunity to make good the political loss he has recently suffered in JD(U) and emerge as a mass leader. For, he is a leader from Madhya Pradesh and his politics is based in Bihar. Hence, there is a limitation to how much support he would be able to garner now.
Though the initial enthusiasm may be heartening for him, keeping it alive may be difficult. The Opposition parties may soon find it irrational to rally behind Yadav and Thursday's conference may remain merely a part of his survival tactic.
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Updated Date: Aug 17, 2017 22:11:03 IST