Rahul Gandhi and others can dream for future and have to still do Yatras for thousands of miles to convince people of their agenda.


NEW DELHI: “I am not doing this to become Prime Minister”, “I will change the system if I become Prime Minister|, partymen cry: “Our leader will be the right choice for Prime Ministership”. Every time, we hear or read such statements from Rahul Gandhi, Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee or their party leaders. Either they are confused or confusing the people of India. During the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Congress spokesman Jairam Ramesh always claimed “The Bharat Jodo Yatra has not been taken out to project Rahul Gandhi as a Prime Ministerial candidate.” On another hand, senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath said: “Rahul Gandhi will be the opposition’s prime minister candidate for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.”
At the last leg of his yatra, he revealed a number of things related to himself and his family. He posted a video titled “Fun chat with Kamiya Jani from Curlytales over dinner at our Bharat Jodo Yatra campsite in Rajasthan” which deals with a wide range of topics. This interview asked about the three things he would do if and when he became the prime minister of India. Rahul said, “I would transform the education system. I would help people doing production who might have small businesses who might be struggling and I would help them scale those businesses and make them big-five, 10, 15 people who run them and they pretty much control the whole structure.” He said India needs lots of small businesses to transform into larger businesses because unemployment is the real problem that the country is facing. “And with the type of concentration of wealth that we have, you’re not going to solve that problem.” Talking about the third thing he would do as the PM, Rahul said, “I would protect the people who are having a rough time—farmers, labourers and youngsters who are unemployed. So I would make sure that they feel they have protection in this country. So the way I think about it is they should feel they have protection and they should be able to expand their imagination to do whatever they want. And I think that’s the job of a nation.” This statement clearly proves that he and his party want him to be the candidate of the opposition parties for the Prime Ministership in the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
“Desh ka PM Kaisa Ho, Nitish Kumar Jaisa Ho”: the JDU office reverberated with slogans like this when Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reached the premises to review preparations for the party’s national executive and council meetings. “When the party workers raised slogans projecting Nitish as the PM candidate, the JDU de facto leader responded with a broad smile. However, Nitish Kumar refuted all speculation, saying that “he is neither a claimant for the PM’s post nor desirous of it.” But can Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, a master of U-turns who always seek power but has seen a consistent political decline in his state, be considered PM material by the BJP’s rival camp?
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee can certainly stake more claim to the Prime Ministership for the simple reason that the idea is not completely unheard of. She has been a prominent member of Congress and she has founded her own party which is currently ruling a state like West Bengal. She is at least visible. She has charisma. After Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen said that Mamata Banerjee has the ability to be India’s next Prime Minister, but it is yet to be seen whether she will be able to pull the forces of public dismay against the BJP, the TMC supremo said that “his advice was an order”. In an interview, the 90-year-old economist asserted that it “would be a mistake” to think that the 2024 Lok Sabha election would be a one-horse race in favour of the BJP and that the role of many regional parties would be “clearly important” for the upcoming general election.
The interesting part is that Congress is not ready to accept Mamata. Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has taken a jibe at PM Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee, claiming they have the pact to weaken the Congress. Chowdhury, who is also the West Bengal Congress chief, said Banerjee will not do anything to upset the PM. “Several leaders have appreciated Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, but not her,” Chowdhury said. “There’s ‘Mo-Mo’, an understanding between Mamata Banerjee and Modiji. This is not the first time the Congress MP has made such a claim. Earlier, Chowdhury had claimed that there was a “secret understanding” between PM Modi and Banerjee to “save Trinamool Congress leaders” from the central agencies. In south India, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao’s attempt to catapult the TRS party to the centre stage of national politics by renaming it is being watched by political pundits. In a politically-significant development in the regional political landscape, the two-decade-old Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) was rechristened as Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), with an aim to establish KCR as a national leader. A big question remains whether TRS—founded in 2001 with a single-point agenda of creating a separate Telangana state—will manage to capture any space in national politics; whether KCR’s leadership will be accepted in other states, especially in the north. KCR is not a politician who does things without a reason. His plan to enter national politics stems from his ambition to fill a vacuum caused by a lack of formidable opposition to the BJP-led ruling National Democratic Alliance at the Centre, said a political analyst. In addition, the 68-year-old leader of Telangana believes his party’s success in winning the support of women, farmers, and marginalised groups with several welfare schemes.
As the main opposition, the Congress struggles to reverse its slide in the country’s electoral politics, major regional parties across the country are trying to forge a united front that can take on the ruling BJP. KCR, who has long championed the idea of a non-Congress, non-BJP opposition front, would want to play a pivotal role in such an alliance.
However, not all share that optimism. M. Kodandaram, the founder of Telangana, feels: “It is for the first time, a state-recognised party like TRS is renaming itself as BRS. It is going to be a misadventure”. He further added that Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which had a strong presence in united Andhra Pradesh, is a registered national party, but has not made any headway at the national level and a similar case is with the AIMIM, which is primarily based in Hyderabad. Both TDP and AIMIM did not rename their parties, he added.
In the recent past, KCR has met several regional party leaders, including JD(S) chief H.D. Deve Gowda, NCP’s Sharad Pawar, TMC’s Mamata Banerjee, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal and others, and has been rooting for a non-BJP, non-Congress’ alliance. However, most of these parties have maintained that there cannot be any united opposition without the Congress as it may end up only helping BJP.
In this scenario, it will not be possible for opposition parties to project one common candidate for PM and challenge BJP supreme leader Narendra Modi. Also, Modi is a most popular leader of India and in the last one year, his welfare schemes benefited millions of people. He also emerged as a world leader and now India has the Chairmanship of G-20 nations. Rahul Gandhi and others can dream for future and have to still do Yatras for thousands of miles to convince people of their agenda.
The writer is the Editorial Director of ITV Network-India News and Daily Aaj Samaj.