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One good thing happening is that the mirage of opposition unity is fading. However much the political parties may hate Narendra Modi, their antipathy to each other is no less. The ‘mahagathbandhan’ originally envisaged by certain non-political experts, particularly in the media, that the easiest way to defeat the BJP would be to set up a single joint candidate in each one of the Lok Sabha constituencies, no longer exists even in the imagination. This is because most parties face regional rivals that they cannot even contemplate sharing a joint platform with, leave alone contest elections together. Now, most parties are looking more at the post poll scenario, as has often been the case in the past.
None of the regional parties is willing to concede even an inch to the Congress, in particular, from among the Opposition, as they realise it would not only help that party make a comeback in areas where its support has vanished, but also because it strengthens Rahul Gandhi’s claim to the PM’s post. With many of the parties having been formed by former Congress leaders who were denied the highest positions because of the Nehru-Gandhi family’s monopoly, the likes of Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, etc., are obviously reluctant to share the limelight.
On its part, the Congress has also seen the merit in going it alone because it has a better chance of long term survival than the parties based on individual leaders and local support base. Its wins in the recent assembly elections have encouraged it to take a chance on its own. This is why pathetic attempts by AAP in Delhi to strike a deal have been rejected, even if it means making a temporary sacrifice. The only alliances that remain are the SP-BSP-RLD front in UP, and the rag-tag one in Bihar led by the RJD. The non-inclusion of the Congress in UP could play a major role in shaping the outcome, although the jury is out on what that would be.
It is good that most parties have chosen to stick with their fundamental ideologies, because any kind of polarisation in favour of the BJP based on the majority vote would not have been healthy for democracy. It could have led to the long term exclusion of certain sections of society. This is why it is also important that those who are believed to be bonded supporters of caste and community based parties should vote according to their personal understanding of the present dispensation, rather than act with a herd mentality. This would force all parties to contest elections based on actual performance than just divisive appeals.