More of desire and less of hope 

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]engaluru has seen another unity show a mini version of the Opposition unity spectacle enacted on the occasion of Kumaraswamy’s swearing in with friends-turned-foes Deve Gowda and Siddaramaiah sharing a stage after a gap of 12 years, joined by the JDS chief minister and the Congress leaders. They have pledged to work together to lay the foundation of a platform for parties to come together to defeat common enemy BJP in 2019. There is nothing wrong with their intentions, but the effort has come too late in the day.

A long-shot photograph of the extended dais during the swearing in of Kumaraswamy in May, after a high-voltage drama beginning with the governor inviting BJP’s Yeddyurappa to form the government and ending with a fiasco in the assembly, interspersed by sensational scenes, including midnight hearing of a petition by the Supreme Court, had become the symbol of Opposition unity. It had a certain spontaneity as nothing was planned in advance. And it did wonders in the by-elections that followed, with the ruling party taking a severe drubbing in several states.

But the latest show is of a different character. The current players had no more than an incidental role in the grand unity festival of May as the swearing in provided only an occasion, ending up as an impromptu conclave of the national Opposition. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, BSP supremo Mayawati, Bengal firebrand Mamata Banerjee and regional satraps including Chandrababu Naidu and Sharad Pawar were seen in a rare bonhomie that was to provide a new impetus to the fight against Modi and the saffron dispensation. The players in the mini show, however, have limited means and their clout to influence politics up north is minimal.

With Mayawati virtually rocking the boat, ruling out any truck with Congress in the crucial assembly elections of MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the prospects of putting up a united front against Modi in 2019 have become pretty dim. Even Rahul Gandhi’s Congress and the once-hopeful leftist unity makers are reconciled to the reality that consolidation of all anti-Modi votes into one block may not be possible. BJP has gleefully accepted this as perhaps as its best chance as the saffron outfits have increasingly been worried about the waning Modi magic and the declining efficacy of Amit Shah’s poll machine, once considered invincible.

The BJP is, in fact, in search of a new narrative for 2019, weighing in the prospects of claiming the legacy of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to bolster the claim for a renewed mandate as the Modi government has little to show by way of signature achievements. Although politics has not ceased to be the art of possibilities, the developing ‘southern disturbance’ is too weak to change the political weather pattern in the Hindi heartland.