Member of Parliament
Derek O'Brien believes he has found a way to take the BJP
on. The next national
election, he says, should not be treated as a battle between Narendra Modi
and a single candidate, but as 29 contests in the states.
should fight the BJP
from 29 different regional platforms over diverse issues, O'Brien writes in his new book 'Inside Parliament: Views From The Front Row'.
"The election should be fought in the idiom and language and with the issues and themes of individual states," he elaborated to PTI on Sunday.
A united opposition
needs to chalk out its poll strategy by pitching all opposition
leaders against Modi, he added.
"Make this a national
election that is a sum of state elections. Make Modi
and the BJP
fight 29 different regional elections in the idiom and language and with the issues and themes of the individual states," O'Brien said.
O'Brien chalked out the opposition
strategy for 2019 in the new publication, which he described as the "real book" out of the 53 that he had written.
"Don't let the BJP
make it a contest around polarising issues beef, pseudo-nationalism or some such prime-time, made-for-TV-and-Twitter agenda," O' Brien said.
In an essay titled "The BJP
is beatable in 2019", O'Brien suggested that the opposition
consider where the BJP
juggernaut was stopped in 2014 -- "in Bengal by Mamata Banerjee, in Odisha
by Naveen Patnaik, in Tamil Nadu by Jayalalithaa and also where the Congress
has beaten the BJP
in recent times in Punjab, led by Amarinder Singh".
To win the 2019 general polls, the opposition
should counter allegations of corruptions by raising the issue of competence, he said.
"I am convinced that they (the BJP) are beatable," he writes.
The government is trying to pen "a false narrative around a ten-letter word -- corruption
-- which the opposition
must counter with another ten-letter word -- competence -- to win the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as BJP
cannot win on any competence quotient", he said.
The leader of the TMC in the Rajya Sabha has set up a "common constructive agenda" for opposition
is trying to use this ten-letter word, corruption, since demonetisation.
needs to use another ten letter word, competence, to counter the BJP.
You have to ask questions about their competence about jobs, competence about the economy, competence about handling the situation after demonetisation, competence about how GST
has been rolled out," O'Brien suggests in his book.
parties should not get distracted by "polarisation narratives" such as food habits and religion.
"All these will benefit the BJP.
.. This is an agreement all opposition
parties need to have. Either inside Parliament
or outside," he told PTI.
O'Brien also had some specific advice for the Congress.
It urged the party not to give too much heed to the Left.
"Too much of listening to the Left will put the Congress
in trouble," he said.
To cite a case, he said the TMC had got the sense the Congress
was ready to march with it after ten days of demonetisation.
"The Left bullied them in delaying that march. Because they thought the TMC will take the lead so they were looking at it in a very narrow way. (Sitaram) Yechury in Parliament
and the Left were trying to slow them down. So I am glad that they stopped listening to the Left," he said.
"We marched with Mamata Banerjee.
But we were wondering what's going on. Only two parties marched with us: Shiv Sena and Omar Abdulla's NC. Hardly one month later, everyone was marching down to Rashtrapati Bhavan," he said.
Hinting at political equations between Congress
supremo Sonia Gandhi and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, O'Brien stated that Gandhi was the cementing factor of opposition
unity, while Banerjee was the acceptable leader who could bridge gaps between conflicting parties within the opposition.
The book, with 50 essays, has been published by HarperCollins and will be launched on November 23 in Delhi.