No takers for Stalin’s proposal to project Rahul Gandhi as PM

Opposition leaders distance themselves from idea to elevate Rahul

Updated - December 03, 2021 10:03 am IST

Published - December 17, 2018 10:25 pm IST - New Delhi

No smooth ride: Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, M.K. Stalin and other leaders leaving for Mr. Gehlot’s swearing-in.

No smooth ride: Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, M.K. Stalin and other leaders leaving for Mr. Gehlot’s swearing-in.

On a day when the Congress party had sought to present a united opposition at the swearing-in ceremonies of its Chief Ministers in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, leaders from several opposition parties distanced themselves from Dravida Munnetra Kazgham (DMK) President M. K. Stalin’s proposal to project Congress President Rahul Gandhi as the opposition’s common Prime Ministerial candidate in 2019.

“There is a broad understanding among the opposition parties that the issue of the name to lead the opposition will be decided after the elections,” said Derek O’ Brien, parliamentary party leader of the Trinamool Congress in the Rajya Sabha.

Not willing to cede ground to the Congress in the wake of MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s decision on Monday to waive loans of up to ₹2 lakh given to farmers, Mr. O’ Brien said, “BJP promised to double farmer incomes in their 2014 manifesto, now they are pleading for more time till 2022. Mamata Banerjee’s government in Bengal had promised to double farmer income in five years; we have tripled it in seven years. Bengal is leading the way in agriculture and meeting farmer’s expectations.”


Representatives of 17 opposition parties participated in the swearing-in ceremonies. However, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and the Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav — both parties have allied with the Congress in Madhya Pradesh — did not attend. While Ms. Mayawati cited health reasons for her absence, Mr. Yadav skipped the event despite having confirmed his participation earlier, said a politician, who did not wish to be identified.

Mr. Yadav has decided to follow the BSP’s cue to stay away from opposition events till the seat sharing arrangements in Uttar Pradesh are finalised, the politician said.

Leaders from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which recently reversed its decades-long stand by recognising the Congress as the key opposition party to lead a challenge to the BJP, too did not endorse Mr. Stalin’s view. “The DMK is already a member of the UPA, so Mr. Stalin can say such things,” TDP Rajya Sabha MP C. M. Ramesh said. “For others like us, this matter can be settled only post the Lok Sabha elections.”

‘Own view’

Observing that everyone was entitled to their own view, CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury contended that whether it was the NDA in 1998 or the UPA of 2004, there had never been a pre-poll alliance at the national level. “The nature of our country and our democracy is such that an all-India formation will come into existence only post elections; what will precede is the unity of secular forces that will be worked out at the State level,” he said. In 2019 too, an alternate formation would emerge, he said, without clarifying on who would lead such a formation.

In an effort to allay perceptions of discord among the opposition parties, Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath clarified to reporters that Mr. Gandhi had never asked for the top job, adding that the issue would only be resolved after the elections.

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