Congress’s P Chidambaram today brushed off the possibility of an Opposition front without the Congress, insisting that all other parties are “one-state parties” and will not be able to muster more than 48 seats. Speaking to NDTV in the backdrop of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s efforts to forge an opposition front against the BJP in the 2024 national elections, Mr Chidambaram said, “Political leaders are welcome to make their own efforts. But arithmetic stares in the face”.
“Barring the BJP and the Congress, there is no political party in India which can hope to get more than 48 seats. All of them are one-state parties,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Among the opposition, “only the Congress is capable of winning sizeable seats. Without the Congress, an opposition front will be like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark,” he added in a Shakespearean allusion.
Mr Kumar had met Rahul Gandhi on Monday, the first on the list of leaders he meant to meet in Delhi. Sources said the two leaders had discussed the possibility of achieving Opposition unity ahead of the 2024 general elections.
Mr Gandhi was in Kanyakumari today, flagging off the party’s massive mass-contact programme “Bharat Jodo Yatra”, as part of which he will walk to Kashmir – a journey of nearly 150 days over 12 states.
Asked about the Congress pitching the rally as a people-contact programme instead of a political move ahead of 2024, Mr Chidambaram admitted that anything done by a political party has political value.
“The rally is politically important. That said, this is an effort to make the people aware that the country is heading for a catastrophe” and impress upon them the need for unity, he said.
Asked if this was yet another effort to relaunch Rahul Gandhi ahead of the party’s internal elections due next month given the focus on his outsize role, Mr Chidambaram said Mr Gandhi is already a leader since the ordinary workers of the Congress “acknowledge and accept Rahul Gandhi as leader”.
“Whether the leader will become president of Congress I can’t say. But he is a leader. President of the Congress party cannot be decided by anyone other than workers of the party. The workers have to decide, and they are very clear in their mind that it is Rahul Gandhi,” he added.