Is Opposition ready to sing RaGa, again in 2024?

Several Opposition parties have backed Rahul’s candidature for prime ministerial post, but many believe he lacks the mantle to take on PM Modi in 2024 polls.

New Delhi | Updated: 23 February, 2023 8:03 pm IST
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's popularity has increased after Bharat Jodo Yatra and he is now being seen as more serious leader, experts say.

As preparations for the 2024 general election gain pace, the Opposition appears to be once again banking on the usual suspect to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Though there seem to be many contenders for the top post, the consensus seems building around Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who is riding high on the success of his Bharat Jodo Yatra.

The latest to join the chorus is former actor Shatrughan Sinha, a former BJP leader who currently represents the Durgapur parliamentary constituency in parliament.

A known Modi critic, Sinha feels that the Gandhi scion is more suitable for the prime minister’s post than PM Modi – the tallest political leader in the country who reduced Congress under Gandhi to just 52 seats.

“At this moment, it is futile to discuss the Opposition’s PM candidate in the next elections. However, everyone knows who should not remain the PM. Rahul Gandhi and many other leaders of his party are quite capable to run this country,” Sinha told reporters in Patna on Wednesday night.

Even though Sinha’s own party – the Trinamool Congress or TMC is making every effort to dominate the Opposition space at the cost of Congress and Rahul Gandhi.

Hours before Sinha’s comment, Gandhi and TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee exchanged bars over their political stand as far as highly sought-after Opposition unity is concerned. On Gandhi’s allegation that TMC was aligning with BJP in Meghalaya, a vocal Banerjee pointed out Congress’ “irrelevance, incompetence and insecurity”.

In January, Sinha said that Gandhi has emerged as a frontrunner against PM Modi.

In the recent past, several Opposition parties like Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), Tamil Nadu CM Stalin’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), former PM HD Deve Gowda’s JD(S), Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Mehbooba Mufti’s People Democratic Party (PDP) & National Conference of Jammu and Kashmir have also supported Rahul Gandhi.

However, Congress is yet to openly declare Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate in the next general elections. On the contrary, Gandhi has played down the chorus around his candidature.

During a press conference in January, Gandhi claimed a “massive undercurrent” against the BJP, but stopped sort of revealing his intentions.

“If the Opposition stands effectively with a vision, it will become very difficult for the BJP to win the election. The Opposition has to coordinate properly and go to the people of India with a vision. There is a massive undercurrent against the BJP,” he told journalists in response to a question on his candidature.

Congress fought the 2019 parliamentary elections under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi and failed miserably to make any significant progress in the number game. It won just eight more seats than its previous record of 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when then-BJP candidate Modi overthrew the corruption-hit government of PM Manmohan Singh.

Rahul himself was unsure of his victory from his traditional Lok Sabha seat Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, which he eventually lost to Union minister Smriti Irani. He was elected from the second seat: Wayanad in Kerala.

Political experts accept that Bharat Jodo Yatra has boosted his image as a serious political leader, but they believe the success is unlikely to convert into political gains.

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