Thursday, July 18, 2024

Opposition Unity Faces Hurdles as Congress and AAP Struggle to Collaborate

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Leaders from various Opposition parties gathered at the residence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Patna on June 23 to discuss the formation of a strong anti-BJP coalition ahead of India’s 2024 national elections. While the Opposition aims to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from winning a third term, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are unlikely to form a pre-poll alliance due to their complex and conflicting relations.

House Divided? PC Chacko Says Congress Open To Alliance With Aam Admi Party Ahead Of Lok Sabha Elections
PC Outlook India

Opposition Unity and the Grand Old Party’s Crisis

Despite the Congress grappling with an existential crisis and losing ground in states like Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, the party is hesitant to join hands with the AAP. The AAP’s growing presence across various states threatens the Congress’ base, making collaboration an unfavorable option. Moreover, the Congress holds resentment towards the AAP for speaking against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, a rare Congress-ruled state. The AAP’s emergence as the fastest-growing Opposition party in terms of state presence further complicates their potential alliance.

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The Delhi Ordinance Issue

The recent Delhi ordinance issue has exacerbated the rift between the Congress and AAP. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged Rahul Gandhi to engage in dialogue during the Patna conclave, but the request was declined.

The Congress also refrained from criticizing the Delhi ordinance, leading to AAP leaders skipping a joint press conference after the Patna meeting.

This standoff between the two parties hampers Opposition unity and weakens their collective influence. The AAP’s campaign to make the Delhi ordinance a priority agenda point received limited support, exacerbating tensions.

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History of Discord and Mutual Distrust

The animosity between the Congress and the AAP has deep roots. During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, both parties engaged in public spats on Twitter, blaming each other for failed alliance talks against the BJP. Even in the past, the AAP was excluded from Congress-led meetings and events, indicating a lack of trust. The Congress accused the AAP of being BJP’s Team B, further intensifying their strained relationship. The distrust between the two parties stems from their divergent political ideologies and past confrontations.

The Real Issue

The real issue hindering collaboration between the Congress and AAP lies in their respective quests for survival and political relevance. The AAP, Trinamool Congress (TMC), and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) were all born out of anti-Congress sentiment, and as a result, they compete for the same political space. To strengthen their bargaining power in seat-sharing talks, the AAP needs to expand its influence, primarily at the expense of the Congress. Consequently, both parties prioritize their individual growth and securing their respective strongholds.

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While Opposition parties in India strive to build a robust anti-BJP front, the lack of unity between the Congress and AAP poses a significant obstacle. The Congress’ reluctance to join forces with the AAP stems from the latter’s potential to erode its support base and hinder its revival. Moreover, historical animosity, differences in ideology, and past confrontations further complicate their relationship. As India approaches the upcoming national elections, the challenge for the Opposition are greater.

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