Sonia Gandhi’s Unifying Role Is Unlikely to Succeed

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As in 2004, Sonia Gandhi is again trying to stitch together an alliance against the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The objective is to field an opposition candidate for the presidential poll where the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is short of a majority in the 1.1 million strong electoral college – although by no more than two percent of the votes.

However, if the opposition fields a widely acceptable candidate and is able to lure a few of the BJP's allies like the generally disgruntled Shiv Sena to its side, then the "secular" front will be able to score a morale-boosting victory.

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It may be recalled that the Shiv Sena had voted against the BJP in the last two presidential elections when it supported the Congress's Marathi nominee Pratibha Patil in 2007 against the saffron stalwart Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, and the Congress' Pranab Mukherjee in 2012 against the former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma.

Notwithstanding the Congress president's initiative in reaching out to virtually everyone in the non-BJP camp, it will be unrealistic, however, to expect the kind of success which she had as a unifier in 2004 because there are significant differences between then and now.

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