New Delhi: Arun Shourie, former union minister, believes that PM Narendra Modi has hugely contributed to a semblance of unity among opposition parties but thinks this is not the right time for them to form a single front against the ruling BJP for the 2019 elections.
Mr Shourie also suggested that too much was being made about the opposition's inability to put up a credible face that could match PM Modi, one-on-one.
"I don't think there was a face against Indira Gandhi in 1977," he told NDTV, underlining that politics was much larger than the established political parties.
Many spontaneous resentment that were coming to the surface could mature and coalesce in the future, he said, citing the recent march by thousands of farmers to Mumbai. He went on to refer to the story of Gulliver, washed ashore after a shipwreck and held prisoner by the tiny inhabitants of the island, Lilliput, to underscore his point.
"Gulliver was tied down by Lilliputians. No one remembers the face of the Lilliputians, by small persons.... People will not only look at face of the other. People will see the (government's) record, in my view and supposing they don't see the record, well, then they will suffer the consequences," the former BJP member predicted.
Mr Shourie's remarks come against the backdrop of the arch rivals for 25 years, the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party working closely in Uttar Pradesh's recent by-elections to deliver a stunning defeat to the ruling BJP and renewed attempts among opposition parties to work more closely with each other.
Mr Shourie, a one-time admirer of PM Modi, blamed him for driving the opposition to the same side.
"I feel Mr Modi is working very hard to put the opposition together and he will succeed. Because he has convinced them that yes, I will exterminate each one of you...Then if you are Mamata Banerjee or X or Y... You will realise that unless you get together with everyone, then each one will be taken apart," he said.
It was a similar approach that had led to the creation of a new generation of leaders in PM Modi's home state Gujarat, he said, referring to the triumvirate of Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakore who had challenged the BJP in the last state elections.
"These people came out of nowhere. They are Modi's creations. They are creations of this aggressive onslaught," Mr Shourie said.
He agreed that PM Modi's party didn't look as invincible as it did after its outsized victory in last year's Uttar Pradesh elections. "The idea of invincibility has now been punctured. People are now saying, perhaps there is a possibility that they can be dislodged," he said.
But what does he think will happen next year when PM Modi stands for a fresh term?
Mr Shourie doesn't get into how many seats the BJP, or the opposition, were likely to win.
"It depends on what the opposition will do", he stressed and went on to outline what he thought they should do.
"If they adopt one single pledge, that there will be one candidate against a BJP candidate. Then, at the height of his wave, Mr Modi got 31 per cent. And opposition will be starting with 69 per cent," he said.
"Secondly," he said, "They must make a much greater effort to take facts to the people".
He also advised them not to have "this great anxiety to have a common front just now".
"Let 3-4 fronts come up. And don't look for one convenor... Yashwant Sinha has a very good idea, opposition parties should meet in different state capitals and person who is dominant person there, he becomes convenor for that particular meeting," Mr Shourie said.