Hyderabad: Addressing an election rally in Telangana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi heralded a major change in BJP’s strategy to counter any opposition front that takes shape for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The Prime Minister focused his attack on the Congress but branded the other major players of the anti-BJP alliance as “acceptable to the public” as he looked to isolate the grand old party, barely five months ahead of next year’s polls.
“In UP, people accepted Mayawati and Mulayam but not the Congress. In Bihar, they accepted Lalu Prasad but not the Congress. In Bengal, they were fine with the Communists and even Mamata Banerjee despite her mistakes. Congress is the only party which has to be banished from our country forever,” Modi said at a public meeting in Nizamabad on Tuesday.
Modi’s remark, although on the face of it a reiteration of the BJP’s ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ slogan, marked a major shift in the party’s approach as it looked geared up to divide the opposition by going soft on the regional satraps despite all of them being major opponents in their respective states.
Political analysts said that the clear message to the likes of Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati was that partnering with the Congress was a losing proposition as such a coalition would pull them down in their own strongholds, and hence, also hamper their national ambitions.
Modi in his speech, however, made no mention of TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, who along with Banerjee, has taken the lead in stitching the anti-BJP coalition and is set to hold a mega rally with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi today.
The grand opposition alliance, in the works for several months now, has been jettisoned by minor differences between the possible alliance partners.
The assembly elections to the five states saw these differences come to the fore as BSP supremo Mayawati decided to go solo in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as she could not come to a seat sharing agreement with the Congress.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, too, has taken repeated potshots at the Congress. Both the parties have so far also seemed unwilling to give any ground to the Congress in seat sharing for the Lok Sabha polls.
Amidst all this, Naidu has made it clear that any anti-BJP front without the Congress would not be possible as it is the only party with a pan-India presence and the powerful regional parties would have to join forces to dent BJP’s chances of a second term.