DMK chief MK Stalin’s pitch to make Rahul Gandhi the opposition’s presumptive prime minister in the 2019 elections has kicked up a storm within the opposition bloc. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who had partnered with the Congress in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections, waded into the row on Tuesday and firmly distanced his party from such a projection. “It is not necessary it (Stalin’s proposal) is the alliance opinion,” Akhilesh Yadav said.
MK Stalin had showered Rahul Gandhi with praises at a function to unveil a statue of his father and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, describing the Congress president as one leader who has the “ability to defeat the fascist BJP”. The generous praise came days after Gandhi delivered on three politically-crucial states in the heartland, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. It was the Congress’s first big win since 2014 when Narendra Modi-led BJP decimated the grand old party in the general elections.
Stalin’s descriptor for Rahul Gandhi in context of next year’s elections had, however, led to some discomfort within opposition parties that have been talking about working together to defeat the ruling BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Leaders of the Trinamool Congress were among the first to signal their discomfiture, particularly given how Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is often perceived to nurse prime ministerial ambitions.
Read More | DMK’s Stalin makes pitch for Rahul Gandhi as PM candidate in latest opposition gathering
Congress leaders, conscious of the possibility of differences emerging within the opposition front over the name of a presumptive prime minister, had been quick to recall how Rahul Gandhi had never projected himself for the top post.
But as Akhilesh Yadav distanced himself from ‘Rahul Gandhi as PM’ pitch, he made it a point to signal that the BJP was still on top of the opposition’s radar.
“The people of the country are unhappy with the BJP and that it why the Congress got success in three states… West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and others had tried to bring all the leaders together to form an alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. If someone (Stalin) is giving his opinion on the PM candidate, it is not necessary that all alliance partners have the same opinion,” Akhilesh Yadav said.
Read More | ‘We all are kings’, says Mamata Banerjee on opposition’s unity ahead of 2019 polls
It isn’t that Akhilesh Yadav has always been so ambivalent about Gandhi’s possible role in 2019.
Well before the 2017 elections when talk of a Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh was still in the initial stages, Akhilesh Yadav, then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister had made it clear that his party was game for a tie-up if his father and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was made the prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 general election with Rahul Gandhi as his deputy.
An alliance between the Congress and Samajwadi Party in the 2017 state elections, however, couldn’t ensure his return to power in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP delivered one of its best performances in Uttar Pradesh. Yadav’s party, after many public pronouncements about their lasting alliance, broke up months later. But a stunning victory for the SP in the Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bye-elections brought him closer to Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati who is also aspires to hold the country’s top job. Once arch rivals, the BSP and the SP have been together since then.
First Published: Dec 18, 2018 23:55 IST
Credit: Source link