By Vijay Darda | 28-05-2018
Political parties will have to rise above self interest to capitalise on the hope revived during the swearing-in ceremony in Karnataka
Reviving the hope of opposition unity, important leaders of opposition parties came together on a single platform during the swearing-in ceremony of HD Kumaraswamy in Karnataka, thereby giving a clear message that the opposition is ready to unite! Indeed, it is the need of the hour too because if the opposition is not strong, the apprehension of the ruling dispensation going berserk will always be there. There is no doubt that the opposition unity is very important for the health of democracy.
Our visionary leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru knew that the health of democracy can be sound only when the opposition in the country is strong. This is the reason why despite ideological differences, he promoted all opposition leaders who used to indulge in healthy and meaningful criticism during his tenure. There are many examples of how much Nehruji liked Atal Behari Vajpayee. Nehruji used to ensure that Atalji got ample opportunities to speak as much as possible. Leaders such as Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Madhu Limaye were bitter critics of the then regime but still they were respected. They were listened to very seriously.
However, the state of affairs now is diametrically opposite. The ruling BJP has been dreaming of a Congress-free India. In such a situation, the concern of the whole country is that if the opposition remains so splintered, how will there be a debate on important issues? Who will raise the issues of the people who disagree with the ruling dispensation in the Parliament? Who will agitate on the streets for the cause of the people? And more importantly, who will rein in the powers that be? The opposition parties will have to understand that the people have high hopes and expectations from them.
Last year, when the leaders of Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, both the Communist parties, NCP, JD(U), Rashtriya Lok Dal and other small parties assembled on the birth anniversary of socialist leader Madhu Limaye, on May 1, at the Constitution Club of India in Delhi, a glimmer of hope was revived that perhaps these parties would come together in the interest of the country. The subject of that meeting was ‘unity of progressive forces’ but it could not happen. The reason was that the Congress and the CPM were of the view that there is no meaning to the unity which is based on the percentage of votes secured by the parties in the elections. Unity should be in thoughts. The unity of thoughts means the agreement on policies and programmes. It is here that the disagreement occurred. The Communist parties are totally against the new economic structure whereas the Congress is the creator of new economic policies. Obviously, the meeting at the Constitution Club of India yielded no positive result.
However, all the opposition parties realise for sure that the Bharatiya Janata Party has succeeded in taking full advantage of the differences among them. In Uttar Pradesh, when Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party fought against each other, the BJP wrested power. But when the two parties joined hands for the by-election, the BJP fell flat. The Opposition leaders know quite well that if they do not come on a single platform in 2019, it will be impossible to stop the BJP juggernaut.
Therefore, the question that arises is that when the opposition parties are aware of the situation, why are they not uniting? It is good that they came together on a single platform in Karnataka but this consistency should be maintained as a group too. Why no platform is being created keeping this in mind? The simple answer to this question is that some opposition parties have their own agendas, regional aspirations, and a tendency to get maximum entitlement. They feel that why should they listen to Congress at all when the party itself is passing through a tough time?
This is the kind of thinking that is obstructing the opposition unity. The leaders of the opposition parties have to understand that in reality, Congress is the only party which has the pan India presence and can efficiently do the job of bringing all the small and big parties under one umbrella. The Congress is the backbone of the opposition. It is necessary that the Congress should be strong to keep the democracy strong. If the Congress weakens the democracy becomes weak because the party has a national agenda. As for the regional parties, their agenda too is regional.
On its part, the Congress will have to make its leadership role clear and bring in changes within. It will have to take the opposition parties into confidence and keep aside the ideological differences in the interest of the country. It will also have to understand that the priorities of the country are above petty self interests. Some of the opposition parties have become parties of particular families. They have to make themselves democratic. The opposition parties also have to understand that there is power in unity. If they do not stand united, how will the people trust them? Today, communalism along with unemployment and inflation in the country are big issues, but the opposition has failed to take to the streets on these issues. The opposition will have to play a positive role to win the confidence of the people in 2019. Mere boasting will not help!
Before I conclude…
Sub-inspector Gagandeep Singh of Uttarakhand Police deserves accolades for the bravery and presence of mind he displayed the other day. It so happened that the self-appointed guardians of the society assaulted a man who was sitting with his friend in the temple complex in Ramnagar. Seeing this, Gagandeep, who was nearby, at once realised that the mob would kill the young man. He immediately rushed there and jumped into the crowd alone, and saved the young man by displaying rare courage. I salute the gut and courage of sub-inspector Gagandeep Singh!
Nobody ever expected that the swearing-in ceremony of HD Kumaraswamy in Karnataka would become so important. This ceremony is actually seen as a development that would foster the opposition unity, but it is no easy task. To achieve this, all the political parties will have to rise above personal interest.