Strong and credible challenger to Modi

The opposition parties have not done themselves any favour by remaining divided

The opposition parties have not done themselves any favour by remaining divided
The opposition parties have not done themselves any favour by remaining divided

The absence of a strong & credible challenger makes it easier for Modi

The way politics is playing out in India, it appears that there is no strong and credible opposition to Modi and BJP, at least in 2024. But we should not forget that more than 50% of the electorate is opposed to BJP nationally and in most states. So, BJP gets a substantial majority mainly because of disunity among the opposition.[1]

Many of those who are opposed to Modi don’t mind anyone, just about anyone, who can defeat Modi.

Among those who support Modi are those who are happy about this situation; they prefer no strong opposition to him. Some among them are concerned that the absence of a strong and credible leader to challenge Modi is not in the interest of India; they believe that even for Modi (and BJP) to perform to the best of abilities, a strong and credible opposition is necessary.

The previous PMs who had no strong opposition for the most part of their tenure was Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, and Rajiv Gandhi. They didn’t perform as well as they could have. Asian countries that were somewhat similarly placed when we got independence, like China, South Korea, Vietnam, etc have leapfrogged economically and India has lagged behind, despite our limited successes. One could attribute the sub-optimal performance of these leaders to the lack of strong and credible opposition.

Strong opposition could be different from credible opposition.

The alternatives we can see to Modi are Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Mamata Banerjee, Stalin, K Chandrashekar Rao, Nitish Kumar, et al., and none of them is credible.

Rahul Gandhi is not credible for two important reasons: He’s part of the Sonia family, which has been India’s most corrupt family, and his incompetence is glaring in every way, compared to almost every other opposition leader. In fact, he’s considered the USP of Modi.

Arvind Kejriwal needs elaboration. As the promoter-cum-head of AAP, he has flattered to deceive. He came on the scene through Anna Hazare’s IAC (India Against Corruption) movement.

The number of promises he made and broke is innumerable, starting with his promise not to join politics. He unceremoniously and unabashedly threw out the co-promoter leaders of AAP who could have challenged him on principles and for top positions, and he kept only Yes-men in his party.

When he entered politics, he held other political parties to high standards of values and principles, throwing charges around left, right and centre without proof but demanding everyone to resign, which is fine but has failed to live up to any of these values and principles, by miles. He has been harbouring religious fundamentalists who indulged in rioting, which is dangerous. He’s proved to be a chameleon who would change colours for power.

Other regional satraps like Mamata Banerjee, Stalin, K Chandrashekar Rao, and Nitish Kumar are basically one-state wonders with national ambitions. They are into politics only for power and money. They have some popular support though limited to their states.

The opposition parties have not done themselves any favour by remaining divided. Since Indian politics has significantly matured, people don’t seem to be in a great hurry to vote for them at the Centre. And none of them has national-level appeal, barring Rahul Gandhi, to a limited extent, but he’s not competent, and the rest of the opposition isn’t willing to back him either.

As things stand, it appears unlikely that the opposition parties will be united significantly against BJP in the 2024 elections in a pre-election coalition.

How about Arvind Kejriwal’s prospects in the longer term?

Kejriwal has been (mis)using funds meant for advertising and promotion (and even under other heads, perhaps) in Delhi and Punjab to promote himself as the future PM contender across the country. While this could help sow the seeds of his party pan India, he will use his Delhi model of getting ambitious young professionals as volunteers to create party structures across India and drumming up promotion through his Delhi model.

His strategy is to snatch the votes of the Congress by promoting AAP as the better alternative to take on Modi, in the hope that people will vote for his party as the winnable one. And then, he could try to get the opposition to accept him as their joint leader, and form a national alliance. This is the reason why he maintains friendships across opposition parties while keeping a distance from Congress.

Of course, he has to show some results wherever he is in power to really get a meaningful vote share. Here, AAP’s model is to get the votes of a large % of the poor through freebies, regardless of what it would mean for the economy. He knows that his chances in 2024 are close to nil. In fact, he would prefer Modi to be the PM after the 2024 elections so that the opposition would be rudderless by then and he could stake his claim.

The one leader who stands out among the opposition parties as credible is Naveen Patnaik. He’s clean, has popular support in Odisha, and has ruled it very successfully for 22 years, though one may have reservations about his competence to rule the whole country. He’s not nursed any ambitions to be the PM so far, he’s 76 already, and on national issues, he has backed Modi and BJP, even if half-heartedly, as he is not quite aligned with the opposition parties. So, he’s not a candidate to be a challenger to Modi, though he would make one, perhaps the best.

So, Modi and BJP appear reasonably certain to come back to power in 2024. How things will pan out after 2024 is difficult to predict because there are too many imponderables.

1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.


[1] One important lesson for BJP about election successDec 10, 2022,

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