The year 2024 may be three years from today but for the Opposition camp, which is raring to halt the BJP juggernaut in the country, the time for action is now. As the saffron party spreads its tentacles, aided by a weak opposition, the onus for bringing together the parties seems to be on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who will be in Delhi on the evening of July 26.
Banerjee, in her Martyrs’ Day speech, had made it clear that the Opposition should start planning early for the 2024 elections. “We should plan for 2024 fight from now. Nothing can be done by a doctor who comes after the patient has died. The patient can be saved if treatment is given on time. Now is your time. The more time you waste, the more the situation will worsen,” the chief minister had said.
According to the TMC, planning a strategy for the general elections should be kick-started from now and the party has been working in this direction since May 2 when the results of the Bengal polls handed a stunning victory to Banerjee.
Election strategist Prashant Kishor, who helped chart the victory path for Banerjee, met NCP supremo Sharad Pawar thrice in 15 days, followed by his meeting with the Gandhi family. Political pundits say the two events are connected and hint at a bigger strategy ahead of 2024.
On the other hand, Banerjee’s nephew and TMC’ All India General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee, also stated that BJP must prepare for a head-on fight with the TMC.
This proves that Banerjee is planning a multi-pronged attack. While the Opposition confabulates on one end, the TMC will try and spread its base to other states to take on the mighty BJP.
The Bengal chief minister is likely to meet like-minded parties on July 28 to draw the contours of the opposition roadmap to 2024.
What has stirred the opposition now?
In 2016, when demonetisation shook the country, Banerjee was the first leader to react, followed by the entire opposition. The anti-BJP parties then met in 2018 in Delhi, where Rahul Gandhi too was present, and a plan was made that opposition leaders would visit one another’s state and campaign.
Banerjee’s theory was that whichever party is strong in a state should support the main party and not prop up different candidates as that would split votes. Though the Opposition met a few times, a common minimum agenda could not be formed. Banerjee also called all opposition players before the 2019 election, but even then the regional satraps could not come on the same page.
Taking a lesson from the failure, this time, the common minimum programme will be worked out early so that when the 2024 elections near, Opposition can launch a collective strike on the BJP. This is another reason why Prashant Kishor called the third front “futile”. With Banerjee in a major role, aided by the Congress, an alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be presented.
Banerjee is also expected to meet PM Modi on July 28. Banerjee is thus emerging as the key player this time who will not only meet the opposition parties but also formulate the strategy for 2024.