'There will be a broad coalition of non-BJP parties in at least 25 states'
Senior Congress leader P Chidamabaram on Friday predicted a broad alliance of non-BJP parties in at least 25 states in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls that will bring a coalition government, while his colleague Kapil Sibal said there is no way the BJP can retain power if opposition parties unite.
Speaking at a discussion after the launch of Sibal's book Shades of Truth, opposition leaders exuded confidence that a non-BJP government would be in place in 2019 while calling for the need of a coalition of like-minded parties.
Among those present at the launch included former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former vice president M Hamid Ansari and a host of opposition leaders.
Leaders from the Samajwadi Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Bahujan Samaj Party were not there.
"I never predict the future. I will predict a step ahead of the election results. I think there is a very very good chance that there will be a broad coalition of non-BJP parties in at least 25 states. That I will predict today. If that happens, then I think night falls day, or day falls night, the result is foretold," Chidambaram said when asked about what will happen in 2019.
Sibal, however, said, "I think everything will depend on two key states -- Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. And if Gorakhpur, Kairana and Phulpur are any indication, and when the opposition unites then the BJP cannot win. If we can replicate that in Bihar and in Uttar Prades, I think there is no chance for the BJP."
Former Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav said "It is impossible to get everyone together, but even if there is possible unity, this government will have to go."
He said all sections of society are being suppressed and the entire country will defeat the BJP in 2019 and the country's Constitution and its values will be restored after that.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury while refusing to predict election result, said "what we will work for is to make sure that this government does not return to power and to strengthen India through a coalition of all the progressive secular forces."
Trinamool Congress leader Chandan Mitra, formerly a BJP MP, however, struck a discordant note saying while the opposition is expected to win, there will be a regional leader leading it, as the rules will be changed now.
Yechury retorted saying, "The Trinamool Congress will correct the historical blunder committed by the CPI-M."
Former prime minister Singh, however, refused to make any prediction for the next Lok Sabha polls.
Sibal noted that India is a nation of coalitions and coalitions with compromises can only take this country forward.
"I think it is time to understand that India as a nation is a coalition. Coalitions with compromises can only take this country forward. Since 2014, the nature of our polity has changed and the difference between the party and the government has ended. It is the party that runs the government and not the government, that runs the country. Parties have infiltrated in a democracy and that balance has been disturbed," Sibal said.
Chidambaram, however, said since 1989, the Lok Sabha elections have been a collection of state elections as no longer one leader will sway the elections in the country.
"2019 would not be different and it would be a state-specific election. In every state a non-BJP coalition will be formed defeat the BJP. It is wrong to assume that India's election will be a presidential election and a state leader will be pitted against the other state leader," he said.
Asked if Rahul Gandhi was up to the job of taking on prime minister Modi, Sibal said, "The prime minister sold dreams to India in 2014. Has he been up to his job?"
For the first time, Chidambaram also acknowledged publicly that the party was divided and he was against impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, a move that finally failed, while Yechury said the move was delayed and much time was lost in bringing about consensus.