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Akhilesh Yadav or Arvind Kejriwal can be prime ministerial face of opposition in 2019 Lok Sabha elections: Says CPPR chairman Dr. D. Dhanuraj; Global Recorder, 29th May 2016

Global Recorder |Sunday, 29 May 2016

1.   It is difficult to reach a consensus to project Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar as prime ministerial candidate of the opposition. It depends on the stability and delivery of good governance in the next few years preceding general elections.

2.   At present, the BJP is at the top; it is at its peak.

3.   The BJP should continue to concentrate on development and should avoid Hindutva politics.

4.   The Congress should re-invent itself. Now it is late to introduce Priayanka Gandhi as the Congress chief ministerial candidate for UP.

5.   We are living in an era of federalism, which is cooperative on developmental issues and competitive on political issues.

Globalrecorder.com, the online magazine, analyzing the recent assembly elections held in the states of Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry has come to the following six conclusions: 1. The Congress party is in deep crisis, 2. The BJP is on the move.  3. The communists have still some power left in them. 4. The two ladies, Ms. Jayalalithaa and Ms. Mamta Banerjee, have been able to retain power in the states of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal respectively. 5. The BJP has won most of the states from the Congress. And 6. These elections will not increase the number of the BJP MPs in the Rajya Sabha.

Now there are two questions in the mind of the people that who will form the government in the country in the year 2019 and who will challenge the incumbent BJP from the opposition.

Therefore, this online magazine talked to Dr. D. Dhanuraj, Chairman Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), a Kochi based eminent think tank of India.

This magazine asked him the following four questions. He was kind enough to answer all of them in detail.

Question 1: How the Congress party can be revived?

Dr. Dhanuraj: The Congress party is in deep crisis. It can be revived only through a lot of re-thinking and a lot of restructuring. The Congress party must keep five points in mind.

One, the party will have to promote young leaders having a mass base. Currently, the party does not have any mass leader who can ensure its victory in the elections.

Two, it should encourage leadership at the state levels as well. There are only a few leaders in this party at the state level today.

Third, the party should understand that there is no place for dynastic politics in the country anymore. That age is over now. It is the age of social media. Now all the people are connected with all the people all the time.

The party was promoting a dynasty in Assam. It lost the election.

Four, the party should have a vision, an idea and a motto. For example, the BJP has a vision of “Congress mukt Bharat” (Congress free India). One may agree or disagree with this vision, but it is a vision and has helped galvanize the party.

The Congress party can also have some vision.

Once Lal Bahadur Shastri had given this country the slogan of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” (Hail the soldier, hail the farmer).

Indira Gandhi said “Garibi hatao” (Remove poverty).

There should be something like this.

The party should take the call on each and every issue. Presently, its stand on various issues is ambiguous. It should speak its mind clearly. It should establish contact and communication with the people. It should talk to them. It should tell them what does it think, for example, about FDI, the reservation, the minorities and many other issues facing this country.

Five, some people are suggesting that Priyanka Gandhi should be presented as the Congress face for the chief ministership of UP.

I think the proposal is good, but too late. It will not help the Congress party.

Moreover, it depends on the stature of Congress at the time of UP elections. If they go in alliance with SP, they need to accept their leader as CM candidate. At this stage, it will be difficult to accept Akhilesh as CM candidate. In case of a victory for Akhilesh, it would turn out to be a young leader of national importance emerging from UP that will not go nice with Rahul Gandhi’s position in Indian politics.

Question: What are the prospects of the BJP?

At present, the BJP is at the top; it is at its peak.

My feeling is that the party will win assembly elections in Karnataka. And also, in some northeastern states. They will take Uttaranchal as well.

I am not sure about UP. I am also not sure about Punjab.

The BJP must continue to pay attention to the development and growth of the country. It should avoid the Hindutva politics and should pay more attention to the minorities.

Question: Can the regional parties pose a challenge to the BJP?

Yes, they can. In fact, the biggest challenge now for the BJP is the assembly elections in UP. Then there are elections in Punjab. If they lose in Punjab, questions will not be asked. But if they do not win in UP, many questions will be asked.

Similarly, elections will be held in the states like Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh which are ruled by the BJP. There is no regional party in these states. So, the election will be fought between BJP and Congress. In the past, only regional parties could stop BJP.

In Orissa, Navin Patnaik is strong.

Mamta Banerjee and Jayalalithaa have won elections in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. These two ladies are strong in their respective states.

So, regional parties have a role in the Indian politics. But things have changed and politics also has changed.

Now there is cooperation and coordination on economic issues between the central government and the state governments. However, there is competition between them in the political arena. Therefore, the regional parties and the central government compete with each other in politics but cooperate on economic and developmental issues.

Every regional party ruling in any state wants the development of its state for which it needs help from the central government.

The same is true for the central government as well. It needs the state government help for various schemes and plans.

For example, the Modi government has launched several schemes at the national level for whose implementation it needs cooperation of the state governments.

Thus, we are living in an era of federalism, which is cooperative on developmental issues and competitive on political issues.

Question: Who can be the prime ministerial face of the opposition in 2019 Lok Sabha elections?

Akhilesh Yadav can be the prime ministerial face of the opposition in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, provided he is able to win the UP assembly elections in 2017.

History shows that UP does not elect any incumbent party in the assembly elections. So, if Akhilesh Yadav is able to form the government in UP again, it will be a great achievement for him. UP is a big state, it sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. Akhilesh is young also. He will have a taller claim for PM candidature.

Another probable candidate is Arvind Kejriwal. He also can be the face of the opposition in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Some people are saying there is a possibility of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) winning the Punjab assembly elections. The AAP is also staking claim in Goa. So, Kejriwal can be a consensus candidate. The biggest advantage for him would be that he will be the serving CM at the nerve centre, Delhi

In my opinion, it is difficult to reach a consensus on Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar as the prime ministerial candidate of the opposition. He can’t be the consensus candidate. His coalition with the RJD even in Bihar is in trouble. I don’t think he can establish consensus at the national level.

 

This interview was first published  in Global Recorder an online magazine