The exit polls on the state Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and the MCD polls can go right, or go wrong, on several aspects, but the biggest story they tell, which is unimpeachable, and must be brought into focus before the results distract us from the essential gravitas of its import is this — any potentially impactful nationwide alliance of the Opposition must have the pair of the Grand Old Party, Congress, and the newest kid on the block, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), as its centre.
The totality of the wisdom of the three elections and their results as projected by the mean of the various exit polls is based on three truisms about Indian politics today — the ruling BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is simply too strong for any political party to take on as a challenger, and any such initiative would be foolhardy; secondly, the Congress, however much Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra might revitalise it, would find its core vote split nearly vertically, give or take, across the country if the AAP too jumps in; and three, even an iota of a split in the Opposition vote, or the vote against the BJP, will make the saffron victory even greater.
The reasons are not far too seek, or understand. In most parts of India, with the sole exception of the southern states, the BJP is in a pole position; and even in southern states, the party is growing stronger enviably. There is a core BJP, or Modi vote; a real strong electorally proven reality, which no opposition can live in denial of — and the Modi vote will stay with the BJP in the 2024 elections.
Instead of focusing on cutting that vote, the Opposition must simply try to unite the rest of the vote — those who don’t want to vote for the BJP and re-elect Narendra Modi for a third straight term with an absolute majority — into a tangible singular block. And that would even get started as an idea unless the AAP, and Congress, come together as the nucleus of this abstract atomic conceptualisation.
There may well be over a hundred reasons why the AAP and Congress should not come together, and leaders in both parties, and political analysts, can wax eloquent on each of them; but there is only one reason why they must come together, because that is the only starting point of any meaningful alliance against the BJP.
If the AAP contests in most of the 200-odd seats in which the BJP and Congress are direct rivals, it will eat into the Congress pie, and give the BJP an even bigger victory than in 2014 or 2019. If the BJP calculations on Uttar Pradesh work out, especially post the grand inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, the result for 2024 can already be foretold — it’s game, set, and match, PM Modi.
And nothing will better signal such a willingness to eat humble pie at each other’s hands than at the hands of the BJP, if Delhi CM and AAP boss Arvind Kejriwal joins the Bharat Jodo Yatra, rivalry in state polls notwithstanding, to impart hope to those who oppose the BJP, when the final results of the year come, giving the crown again, at least as per the exit polls, to Mr Modi and his party.