Scope of Post Poll Alliance in 2019 General Elections
In 2014, the BJP’s victory was the result of several factors: Modi’s personality; smart social engineering; aggressive on-ground management of the election process; and a compelling narrative built around the failings of the United Progressive Alliance (largely corruption and mismanagement of the economy) and the promise of the alternative (development and jobs).
Apparently, the opposition is likely to approach the parliamentary elections scheduled for the middle of the next year without any grand national plan. Recently, Sharad Pawar, the Maratha strongmen and leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, in an interview given to Hindustan Times stated that alliance, if any, will be made at the state level in the upcoming general assembly election 2019. The national alliance will be formed after the polls and the Prime Ministerial candidate will also be decided by the relative strength of the parties.
Adding weight to his statement regarding the idea of post-poll alliance, the upcoming election will be a milestone in the history of Indian politics. There has been a similarity between the current political fabric of the country and the Emergency period in the past. When the election after emergency was fought, it was against Indira Gandhi. Hence, parties united to odd Indira Gandhi out of power. This time around, the stated goal is to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
It will be the first time since 1977 that the election will be about a single personality. Back then, the choices were Indira Gandhi, and not Indira Gandhi which turned out to be Morarji Desai. As it repeats, the choices in the upcoming election will be Narendra Modi and not Narendra Modi.
The strategy of the opposition parties is one born out of necessity. Many parties that are united in their opposition of the BJP are themselves rivals at the state level, and there are far too many leaders with prime ministerial aspirations across them. Still, their current plan, as explained by Pawar, and also by senior leaders of the Congress in recent interactions with the media, isn’t a very strong one. That’s because the BJP will try to turn 2019 into a Presidential style contest between Modi and an unknown person — and there are no guesses as to who is likely to win this.
Any grouping that wishes to take on the party and the larger National Democratic Alliance in 2019 will need all of those: a face; ground-level planning; and a convincing narrative.