West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s second consecutive oath ceremony on Friday (27th May) raised hopes of a possible non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance across the country, which would play a decisive role not just in regional politics but a crucial role in the floor management in Parliament.
Among the regional political biggies present at the swearing-in ceremony of Banerjee were National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) or JD (U) chief Nitish Kumar, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Moves to form an anti-BJP federal front gained momentum, as prominent regional leaders backed the idea at Mamata Banerjee’s swearing-in ceremony as West Bengal chief minister. Taking the lead was former Bihar chief minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad who said opposition unity was imperative. “All like-minded parties will sit together to resist the spread of the BJP. If we don’t come together now, BJP and the Sangh Parivar will end up dividing the country”. Farooq Abdullah, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, also supported the initiative. “Various parties working to ensure a united India have to come together. We need to discuss it with different parties, and of course, Mamata Banerjee is one of them,” he said.
The impact of the anti-BJP and anti-Congress alliance will be visible inside Parliament as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) along with SP, RJD and JD (U) account for 41 members of Parliament (MPs) in Rajya Sabha, , making it impossible for Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to ignore the strong presence of the collective regional force. The idea comes ahead of crucial polls early next year in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is hoping to use Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity to ride to power for the first time in about 15 years. The swearing-in can also act as a ‘patch-up’ with Samajwadi Party (SP) and the rest. SP had walked out of the Grand Alliance just before the Bihar polls; it may well have to rethink its political formulations before the 2017 UP assembly elections.
In the recently concluded assembly polls in West Bengal, Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress won 211 seats out of the 294 seats, while Congress won 44 and Left parties together won 32 seats in the state assembly. The BJP bettered its performance winning 3 seats, while another constituent of NDA, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), won three seats. With 35 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 11 in Rajya Sabha, the TMC can indeed become an important component of any anti-BJP front.
The Left parties have been a part of such initiatives before but the leaders of any such emerging front will have to choose between the Left and its arch-rival TMC. The Left boycotted Banerjee’s swearing-in ceremony.