NEW DELHI: If there was a take-away from the Sanjhi Virasat Bachao — save the country’s composite culture — sammelan the opposition’s war-cry from the Constitutional Club on Thursday, it was this: Sharad Yadav has found a new parivar and Rahul Gandhi has found more acceptance among the big boys of politics.
Left in a nowhere zone by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, hosting the 17-party opposition meet for Sharad Yadav meant testing of waters, of seeing if there could a political life beyond Kumar and his about-turns.
That a high-powered Congress contingent with Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi landed up and Ahmed Patel surprised everyone with a stirring speech, and even Sharad Pawar’s NCP which chose to skip Sonia Gandhi’s meeting, chose to depute Tariq Anwar, showed that Yadav does have relevance in the opposition in search of a pivot. That he need not start walking to his sunset yet.
Whether this show of opposition unity would pose a real challenge to Narendra Modi-Amit Shah’s plan of celebrating the 75th anniversary of Independence in 2022 while-in-office in South Block, or not, it did seem to be a new lease of life for both Sharad Yadav and Rahul Gandhi. “If we come together, they will be nowhere to be seen,” said Rahul, belting out an ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ message. A bit ironic though, because it was also about dividing the Janata Dal-United and the slogan was originally coined in 1977 to oust Indira Gandhi from power.
In the coming months, the Congress and Rahul Gandhi would be pitted directly against the Modi-Shah led BJP without the prop of the opposition unity, in Gujarat, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. How 2019 will pan out, will depend on how these states vote, not how united the opposition remains.
Nonetheless, the Congress vice president raised quite a few pithy slogans for the collective — “Modiji says he wants to create Swachh Bharat, but we want to create a Sach Bharat”; and took on the RSS with another such pot-shot. Rahul accused the Sangh of infiltrating into all institutions with their exclusivist world view.
With CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, and TMC’s Shukhendu Shekhar on stage, there were loud cheers for Rahul. The DMK, however, could not make it to Yadav’s show of strength.
As for the split in the JD-U, not all of the 21 ousted by Kumar could make it to Sharad Yadav’s event from Bihar. The surprise, however, was the rather large representation from JD-U’s Gujarat unit.
And, it was for the first time publicly acknowledged that it was Chhotubhai Vasava who had saved Patel from defeat in the Rajya Sabha polls.