2024 elections will be exciting, but the BJP could have a “tough time” if the Oppn unites behind one candidate in every seat: Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor, a senior Congress leader, said that the general elections in 2024 will be “exciting.” He also said that the ruling party, the BJP, will have a “very tough time” if the opposition comes together around one candidate in each constituency to fight it.

Tharoor told the news agency PTI that it would be hard for the BJP to repeat what happened in 2019, when it won or came close to winning a lot of states.

When asked if the Congress has to be the centre of any Opposition alliance, the former Union minister said, “De facto, it (Congress) is the only party other than the BJP with a national presence, and we may have a stronger national presence in some parts of India than the BJP does, like in my own state, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.” Tharoor said that there is no doubt that the Congress is a national party with a long history and a presence almost everywhere. Because of this, Tharoor said, the Congress has to be included in any plans for an Opposition front or an Opposition government in the future.

“I think the main lesson here is that a divided opposition helps the BJP,” he said, referring to the last two elections, which the BJP won with 31% and 37% of the vote, respectively.

Tharoor said that unity among the Opposition could come in many forms, such as a pre-election alliance or a careful choice of seats so that, as much as possible, the strongest Opposition candidate can run against the BJP candidate without interference, with the final deal being made after the election.

“I don’t have control over any of that,” Tharoor said. “All I can say is that if the Opposition as a whole unites behind one candidate in every constituency, I think the BJP will have a very hard time in 2024.”

He said that there have been big changes in the country since 2019, and he used Bihar as an example, where the BJP’s former ally, the JD(U), has joined forces with the opposition.

“A lot has changed since the BJP won a record number of seats with its ally in 2019, which is no longer its ally” (in Bihar). There are also other states where the BJP either won every single seat or all but one seat. Tharoor said, “I don’t think that pattern will be so easy to repeat in 2024.”

There is always some anti-incumbency in the country, and he said that the BJP might regret in 2024 that it did so well in 2019 that it had almost no more gains to make in the country.

“I think this election is going to be very interesting. “I disagree with those who say the Opposition has no chance in 2024,” he said.

When asked if the AICC presidential elections and the Bharat Jodo Yatra had given the party a new lease on life and made it a serious contender for 2024, Tharoor said he thought so and recalled that Sonia Gandhi, who was the Congress president at the time, had told him that she thought the elections had made the party stronger.

“We’ve seen that the public’s response to the Bharat Jodo Yatra, especially when it ended in Kashmir, was much bigger than anyone expected, whether they were our critics or our fans,” he said.

It has completely changed Rahul Gandhi’s image and, by extension, the image of the Congress party. It has also given Congress workers a new sense of self-confidence, which Tharoor said will help the party get ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

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