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 The grand alliance of major and regional parties to counteract a formidable ruling party is not something new and has been opted before in 1971, 1977 and 1989. While the former years saw overthrowing of the Congress rule, tables have turned now where the once formidable Congress Party has now joined hands with other regional parties to fight against Bharatiya Janata Party in 2019.

It was on the 23rd of May where we witnessed the swearing of HD Kumaraswamy as the chief minister of Karnataka at Vidhan Soudha, Bengaluru along with the grand unification of United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, chief ministers Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and Chandrababu Naidu, leader of Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samajwadi Party’s Mayawati, National Congress Party’s president, Sharad Pawar and Rashtriya Janta Dal’s chief Ajit Singh.

Can the grand alliance stop the BJP in 2019?

While the BJP’s hindutva agenda, agrarian crisis, demonetization and unified tax – Goods and Service Tax may have upset many asking for a better government in 2019, the grand alliance seems to be garnering a lot of attention. the grand alliance consists mostly of regional parties that are primarily interested in protecting their own regional party’s goals, the question of ambiguity among these regional bases also comes into question.

Some of the important concerns of the grand alliance are regarding the leadership of the unified opposition and seat-sharing. Considering Congress, the largest constituent of this alliance and with big names such as Mamta Banerjee, Mayawati and Arvind Kejriwal having a strong hold in their respective states, it is hard to believe that the Grand Alliance will run smoothly without any ambiguity, ego clashes and non-uniformity, causing more harm than good to the nation at large. In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, Kunwar Danish Ali, secretary general of Janata Dal (Secular) who played a major role in bringing about a post-poll alliance of his party with Congress in Karnataka clarified on the doubt and confusion that each party will have its candidates elected by the people. Whichever party will win the highest number of votes will select the leader of the Lok Sabha and after the results, decision of the government’s leadership will be decided. The Unified Party will seek references from previous coalition governments for the selection of the Leader or will have to invent a new formula. To ensure the smooth functioning and the performance of the government a Coordination Committee has also been formed in Karnataka where the Congress-Janata Dal (S) government to oversee its functioning. RPN Singh, All India Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, in a recent interview with Press Trust of India, said that Rahul Gandhi has made it clear that the Congress would be looking at alliances at state-level with like-minded parties to take on BJP in 2019.“We have state-wise partnerships, in the larger sense you could call it Mahagathbandhan, but our primary focus is state to state”, says Rahul Gandhi. After the victory in Karnataka, there have been recent talks over a grand alliance in Jharkhand for the Lok Sabha elections.

The unification of such grandeur in leading the nation, if not turned into a short lived personal gain alliance will most truly reflect the secular and pluralistic character of the Indian Constitution. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala once said, “The dictum that one man decides all can only lead to autocracy. Hence, a set of people who believe in democracy plan to take on such a ruling dispensation and create an alternate front that gives a right to dissent and defend the core ideology and pluralistic culture of the country.”  

The BJP Government has been working towards the 2019 election since its win in 2014. One cannot simply neglect the sheer popularity of Narendra Modi and his government’s constant effort to bring about radical changes– demonetization and GST.  The grand alliance will only work if the opposition parties work in unity. There is a need for a strong national party to act as an anchor around which the other regional parties can coalesce, says Mohammed Ayoob a professor of International Relations at Michigan State University. But with the history of Congress’ 2014 debacle will Congress still be able to act as a national anchor? The Karnataka Model of coalition government with a strong coordination committee will have to prove to the nation that the grand alliance is here to stay despite its diverse regional parties and its ambiguities.

The promise of better governance has been made by every elected government over the years but not much has been delivered in practice. Will the promises once again work over the people with BJP and the Opposition contesting the 2019 election or will the grand alliance or mahagathbandhan of national and regional parties finally unite to form a stable government for the people? This is a question that can be answered in the course of time depending on the stability of the alliance and the negotiations of the member parties. However, the state-wise partnership agenda with national and regional parties in mutual understanding, playing a second fiddle when necessary, may definitely prove as a catalyst for affecting BJP’s vote share in the 2019 elections.



Srikanth, B.R (2018, June 9). New formula, new alliance for 2019: Will the Danish Ali strategy work?. Deccan Chronical. Retrieved from https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/090618/new-formula-new-alliance-for-2019-will-the-danish-ali-strategy-work.html

Khan, S (2018, May 24). Why pushing out Modi in 2019 is no pushover for a ‘grand opposition’ front. dailyO.  Retrieved from                                                         https://www.dailyo.in/politics/opposition-unity-2019-lok-sabha-elections-bjp-narendra-modi-hindutva-congress-rahul-gandhi-sonia-gandhi-hd-kumaraswamy-swearing-in/story/1/24404.html

Ayoob, M (2018, July 3). Time to hit refresh. The Congress cannot be rejuvenated without addressing the dynasty issue. The Hindu, p. 9.

Congress talks with JMM, JVM for 2019 Grand Alliance in Jharkhand. (2018 July 1). All India Press Trust of India.    Retrieved from https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/congress-talks-with-jmm-jvm-for-2019-grand-alliance-in-jharkhand-1876081

Image Credit : Hindustan Times 

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Written By Stuti Pradhan


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