By Vijay Darda | 19-03-2018
Victory in by-polls has come as a ray of hope for the Opposition but the path for its unity will be no bed of roses!
The back-to-back debacles suffered by the BJP in the by-polls have certainly come as a ray of hope for the opposition parties. Opposition parties feel that the common man is not happy with the BJP government. This discontent is being reflected in the by-election results.
The story of Tripura is different because people were upset with the leftist government that ruled the state for 25 years and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) played a crucial role in paving the way for BJP victory. The credit for Tripura win goes to the RSS, and not to the BJP! All is not well within the NDA as the BJP’s big brother attitude has left its allies sulking. The Shiv Sena which stood by it in trying times, is upset and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has already left the alliance. This is an encouraging sign for the opposition.
The BJP government came to power by promising the moon. It made fabulous promises such as corruption-free rule, accountable governance, employment to youth, Rs15 lakh deposit in every poor countryman’s bank account, minimum input cost for farmers and better entrepreneurial environment for development and growth of small and medium enterprises. It may be noted that people had unreservedly trusted Narendra Modi. They had voted for him. It was because of people’s strong faith in him that the BJP won and formed government in many states. But the euphoria seems to be on the wane. Now people are questioning whether the government has come true on the promises it had made. The 2G case has gone kaput. The allegations have proved baseless. The same will be the fate of other cases too as there is no truth in the allegations. On the other hand, one bank scam after another is emerging under the BJP regime. We all know how difficult it is for a common man to get a bank loan, and how people like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi get loans worth thousands of crores of rupees and disappear overnight? It is said that there are 33 such persons who have defrauded banks of huge sums and fled.
Has it made any difference in the life of the poor? How many unemployed got jobs? Is the condition of small and medium industries any better? The GST has broken the back of all concerned. Now even the World Bank has termed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as one of the most complex ones in the world. India is second in the world in terms of over-taxation. What is the condition of the salaried class which contributes most to the GDP?
The opposition believes that all these issues are distancing people from the BJP government. People are expressing their discontent in the by-elections. The BJP had to eat a humble pie in the Gujarat Assembly elections. The opposition parties are also realising the fact that they have a better chance if they unite to defeat the BJP in 2019. The division of votes has to be stopped. After Akhilesh and Mayawati joined hands in Uttar Pradesh, the SP won the seat of Gorakhpur which the BJP had retained for the last nearly three decades. The SP-BSP combine also bagged Phulpur seat. The writing on the wall is clear that if the opposition stands united, electoral miracles can be brought about.
Therefore, the moot question is, will the opposition parties take some lessons and unite for 2019? It is too early now to surmise anything on opposition unity. Only time will tell whether the non-BJP parties will be able to overcome their inhibitions. And even if the opposition unity is brought about, will the parties involved be able to nurture and strengthen it? Will they be able to consolidate it to the extent of making the combine a true warrior and protector of democracy? All these questions are bothering the common man.
The most crucial one among all these questions is who will be the guardian or the leader of the opposition unity? In fact, this is the question which is impeding the opposition unity. When the UPA was formed, all the parties had unanimously elected Sonia Gandhi as its chairperson. They even wanted her to become the prime minister. But the situation is different today. Rahul Gandhi is the Congress president and the opposition parties are assessing him from their own point of view.
This month only, Sonia Gandhi hosted a dinner for the leaders of the opposition parties. The leaders of a total of 20 parties attended it but Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee were conspicuous by their absence. I would like to mention that at one point of time, Lalu Prasad Yadav had brought all the parties together. He was a strong leader but he made H D Deve Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral the prime ministers, keeping himself out of race.
Today, the country is expecting similar sacrifices from the opposition leaders. Congress is the only party having its base in every part of the country and which has the strength to emerge as a force to reckon with. Therefore, the opposition parties should keep aside all their differences and come under Congress’ umbrella. Rahul Gandhi also understands his responsibilities. Therefore, after Sonia Gandhi’s dinner, he said, “we are moving in the right direction.” Not only this, he met Sharad Pawar too last week. He knows that Sharad Pawar is the past master of politics and such leaders are a necessity to form alliances.
If the opposition parties indeed form an alliance, the 2019 elections will be really tough for the BJP. However, the opposition parties also know that Modi and Shah are a charismatic pair in politics and have expertise in turning the tables. Though it is not easy for the opposition to take them on, democracy demands it (the opposition) to be strong.
Before I conclude…
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has taken a commendable step. Anish Bhanwala, who brought laurels to India in shooting, will be able to appear for the three papers of standard X CBSE examination later. Anish will be abroad participating in various competitions during the period when the regular examinations will be held. Normally, he could not have appeared for the exam at a later date but he got special permission. This step of the CBSE has paved the way for those players who are forced to forgo their examinations to take part in the sports tournaments.