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The Opposition remains divided – editorials


To discuss contentious issues — particularly the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and and the economic slowdown — the Congress convened a meeting of the Opposition parties on Monday. But if the attendance at the meeting was an indicator, the Opposition has reason to worry.

All Opposition parties, in principle, speak about the need to challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a united manner. But this seems more rhetorical than real. The Bahujan Samaj Party boycotted the meeting, claiming the Congress was poaching its legislators in Rajasthan. The Trinamool Congress decided to stay out because of local Bengal politics. The Aam Aadmi Party, with an eye on the upcoming polls in Delhi, neither wanted to be seen as wading into a controversial issue, nor was willing to accept the Congress’ lead on it — though it later said it had not been invited to the meeting at all. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhaga was unhappy with comments made by local Congress leaders in Tamil Nadu and skipped the meeting. So did the Shiv Sena and the Samajwadi Party.

This shows that the political challenge to the BJP will remain disparate. Local factors, state-level competitive dynamics, the unwillingness to accept Congress’ leadership, and, in some cases, ideological and tactical confusion means that an umbrella coalition to take on the BJP on even contentious issues is a distant prospect. This has been a huge asset for the ruling party, which has capitalised on precisely these divisions to score electoral victories as well as push ahead controversial legislations.

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