Candidate Yashwant Sinha but cohesion within opposition bloc remains elusive

Opposition parties have finally decided on Yashwant Sinha as their candidate for the upcoming presidential polls. This, after NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, NC chief Farooq Abdullah and former diplomat and Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi turned down offers to become the opposition nominee. Although governing BJP is comfortably placed for the presidential polls and Sinha’s candidature is not going to change that, the opposition exercise is yet again being seen as a test of their unity.
That said, the main problem with opposition unity is that their political calculations don’t match their ambitions. For, many opposition parties are in direct contest with the Congress in state polls. This is true for Trinamool Congress, AAP, Akali Dal, TRS and even the Left. In fact, TRS, BJD, AAP, Akali Dal and YSRCP stayed away from selecting a united opposition presidential poll candidate. But an anti-BJP bloc without Congress doesn’t work either. After all, Congress still has the second largest number of MLAs in the country after BJP.

Therefore, the only way a united opposition can pose a serious political challenge to BJP today is if Congress starts winning in north and west India. These are regions where Congress is in direct contest with BJP in a large chunk of seats. But if Congress is thinking of ceding this political space and focussing on south and east India where BJP is relatively weaker, it will again run into the problem of facing off against regional parties that it hopes will be part of the national anti-BJP coalition. However, there are little signs of any Congress revival in north and west India. The loss of Punjab, the failure to topple BJP in Uttarakhand and the dismal performance in UP highlight Congress’s downward graph. Unless this changes, the opposition unity exercise will be futile.
Read also: Presidential polls: Yashwant Sinha to be joint opposition candidate

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