Thiruvananthapuram: Though it sounds majestic and eloquent, Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) is unlikely to mature into a pan-Indian pre-poll political axis.
The conflicts of interest within the opposition ranks, spread across states, is so sharp that it is doubtful if I.N.D.I.A will be able to come out with a Uniform Political Code (UPC) ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is credited with inventing such an appealing brand identity for the broad opposition axis, bracing up to take on the BJP in the crucial electoral battle ahead.
The Congress, however, appears to have punched much above its height.The naming has betrayed the ambition of the grand old party to be the pivot of the opposition, both before and after the elections.
True, the Congress leadership has stated that the party is not very keen to claim the top slot, in the event of the BJP failing to muster enough numbers, along with minor allies. But the magnanimity on the part of the Congress needs to be taken only as a political ploy to cement the opposition unity and guard against its constituents being poached by the stronger and far more resourceful rival.
Given the ground realities, it would be pretty hard to evolve a UPC acceptable to all the 26 parties turned up for last week’s opposition conclave in Bengaluru. It looks equally difficult to evolve a common all-India narrative to be presented before the electorate, let alone achieving the goal of fielding common contestants against the BJP in at least half the Lok Sabha seats.
In the prevailing scenario, it would be absurd to discuss political ideology and morality, as the prime factor that makes or unmakes electoral fronts.
The parties that shared the platform at Bangaluru were a disparate lot. The conflicts of interest among them are difficult to be reconciled on the basis of a common programme and narrative, as the situation varies from state to state. The sole compulsion and motive of the loose and amorphous grouping is to oust the BJP, and deny a hattrick win to Narendra Modi.
It is far too ambitious a project to float the I.N.D.I.A banner in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, Delhi and Punjab.
Kerala exemplifies the unresolvable contradiction in the opposition alliance the best.
The southern state has contributed to the Congress its highest tally of Lok Sabha seats in 2019, at the expense of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the CPI(M). The Congress is keen to retain that strength in the coming polls as well. At the same time, the CPI(M) will make its best efforts to pick up as many seats as possible to ensure that the party has some relevance at the national level.
This would mean that the UDF and the LDF would be taking tenaciously on each other in Kerala. There is no common ground between these traditional rivals, since the BJP is not a big factor in the state The common narrative that plays at the national level will have no meaning in the state, which sends 20 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
The electoral battle in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha, where strong regional outfits hold fort, the electoral contest will be triangular involving the regional party concerned, the Congress and the BJP.
In Maharashtra, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand ,the Congress already in alliance with regional parties, and in all likelihood the constituents the Congress may prevail upon the constituents to fight under the I.N.D. I.A brand, glossing over their reservations.
In the states where the Congress and the BJP face it off between them, the latter will certainly be hyping the banner, to assert its claim the fight on hand is to defend the ideals and ethos of India.
All these boil down to the reality that all those parties who want to get rid of the BJP rule might not be embracing the I.N.D.I. A banner. It will ultimately remain a Congress project.