Opposition leaders gathered in Chennai on the occasion of the birthday celebration of Tamil Nadu’s CM M.K. Stalin and stressed the need for opposition unity to defeat PM Modi and the BJP in the coming 2024 general elections.
On March 1, 2023, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader celebrated his 70th birthday in Chennai. Son of stalwart Dravidian leader M. Karunanidhi, M.K. Stalin tactfully transformed his birthday celebration into a “show of opposition unity” as political leaders from different regions joined his celebration.
Politics of Birthday Celebration
On his 70th birthday, M.K. Stalin unequivocally crafted a picture of an opposition coalition for the 2024 general election against the BJP and PM Modi. The dais of his birthday celebration was accompanied by RJD Leader Tejaswi Yadav, Samajwadi Party Leader Akhilesh Yadav, National Conference Leader Farooq Abdullah, and AICC President Malikarjuna Kharge. All the parties that were in attendance belong to the opposite aisle of the present central dispensation led by the BJP and are indispensable constituents of any vision of “united opposition against the BJP” in 2024, given the electoral arithmetic and the requirements of the “first-past-the-post electoral system.”
The conspicuous absence of Mamta Banerjee’s TMC and K. Chandrashekhar Rao’s TRS was a political signal in itself. Though the DMK said that only above mentioned four parties were invited.
Opposition Unity and PM Candidature
On the occasion of his birthday celebration, the Tamil Nadu CM said that it was not his birthday celebration but rather an “inaugural event of India’s new politics.” The M.K. Stalin birthday celebration was another in a series of events organised by leaders of stature and political clout to show their intent to craft a coalition of opposition for the 2024 general elections. Before the DMK’s Stalin, K. Chandrashekhar Rao of the TRS was on an India tour to stitch an alliance against the BJP.
Though every major opposition leader, be it Rahul Gandhi, Mamta Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, K. Chandrashekhar Rao, Arvind Kejriwal, or Tejaswi Yadav, endorses the noble idea of opposition unity, they show no synergy when it comes to the framework and leadership of the opposition. AICC President Malikarjuna Kharge’s declaration to defeat the BJP in 2024 under a Congress-led coalition got a sharp rebuke from TMC.
Ideal Birthday Gift
Referring to the resolution of the 85th Plenary session of the Congress, where the congress resolved that INC was ready to work with like-minded parties, Stalin said it was an “ideal birthday gift” for him. On the question of the elusive and utopian concept of the Third Front, Stalin was unequivocal. The Tamil Nadu CM discarded the idea of a third front and called for opposition unity instead. Justifying the need for “unity,” Stalin said that parties opposed to the BJP needed to understand electoral arithmetic and stand united.
Taking a sharp political jab at the BJP, Stalin said that we must defeat the BJP as it was trying to divide a united India through communal fascism and turn India into an autocracy. On the divisive issue of the 2024 opposition candidate for PM, Stalin took a high moral stand and said that the 2024 general election is not about who should win but rather who shouldn’t win.
Race for 7-Race Course Road
AICC President Malikarjuna Kharge, on the issue of the PM candidate, clarified that the PM candidate is not a priority now. Calling for unity, Kharge said that it’s important that all like-minded people come together, and in defence of his previous statement of a “congress-led coalition,” Mr. Kharge said that he never said who would lead or become PM.
Debunking the alternative of the post-poll alliance as “practically not workable,” Stalin said that the attempt to form a “non-congress alliance” would not reach the shore.
Adding to the sentiment to fight the BJP as a united opposition, the political heir of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Deputy CM of Bihar, Tejaswi Yadav, said that opposition unity is the need of the hour as democracy is in danger under BJP rule.
When the question of the possibility of Stalin as a potential PM candidate was posed to National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, he stood behind Tamilnadu’s CM political credentials and said that Stalin could become Prime Minister if the opposition united.
The political landscape of India is once again charged with fierce political battles, with all the parties gearing up for the 2024 general election and upping the ante against the BJP in the hope of becoming PM and serving the nation.