Although crucial Assembly polls in three BJP-ruled Hindi-speaking states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — are due in November-December, there is no sign yet of any worthwhile moves between the Congress and the BSP for a tieup. If this doesn’t materialise, the BSP may not yield the Congress space in Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress’ condition is far from satisfactory. The party won just seven seats of 403 in the last Assembly polls. Even if it’s conceded the BSP and SP also didn’t do well in 2017 due to the BJP’s steamrolling effect, the Congress seems unlikely to be in a position to put up as many as 26 Lok Sabha candidates in the state, as it reportedly hopes to do.
On the other hand, a BSP-SP combination can give the BJP nightmares as a number of critical byelections showed not long ago. This is due to the coming together of certain social forces at the grassroots if these parties combine well.
In London recently, Congress president Rahul Gandhi spoke of the resolve of a coalition of parties to oppose the BJP in the next parliamentary election to prevent the BJP-RSS from encroaching on the nation’s institutions. It may be early days yet, but the Opposition parties that had gathered in Bengaluru for the swearing-in of H.D. Kumaraswamy do not appear to have moved purposefully to pool their forces.
Some evidence of a growing concretisation of their will to come together is expected, lest disenchantment set in among the electorate. This is not Mr Gandhi’s work alone, but also of the other senior Opposition leaders.