By Ashima Makhija
After the disintegration of the ‘Grand Bihar Alliance’, the Congress suffered yet another blow as six of its MLAs resigned from its Gujarat state unit, prior to the Rajya Sabha elections. The home state of Prime Minister Modi has become a turbulent zone for the Congress since the cross-voting in Presidential elections and the resignation of former Chief Minister, Shankarsinh Vaghela.
The disarray in the Congress and the lack of unity and leadership in opposition parties has led to a virtually non-existent Opposition in India, where BJP enjoys unparalleled and undisputed support and credibility. The mighty Congress fell in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Delhi civic elections and now, in Bihar, which provides plenty of evidence to prove that the ruined castles of Congress can no longer run on a glorious history and a rich legacy of nepotism. It is time for the opposition to learn from its mistakes, realize the need to connect with its voters and understand the strategy of the leading party.
Corruption doesn’t pay in the long run
Corruption has come to be viewed as an inherent, default feature of Indian politics that drags down the economy and puts India on the back foot, globally. The former UPA (United Progressive Alliance) regime was infamous for its recurrent scams and corruption cases, which involved key party leaders. The Opposition has failed to realize so far that it needs to distance itself from any party or politician indulging in corruption.
One major takeaway from Modi’s three years of rule is that there have been no corruption cases involving central ministers. Modi has embarked upon a battle against corruption cases involving politicians, money-launderers and crony capitalists. By giving investigators a free hand to chase the corrupt, the Modi government has sent out a strong signal to the political-corporate nexus that has played a significant role in damaging the economy and has strengthened its pro-people and pro-development image. The Congress, on the other hand, lost JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar, who would have emerged as the leader and founder of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, due to the corrupt practices of its allies.
Growth and development, not communalism and factionalism
There has been a paradigm shift in the central political agenda of parties, since the ascent of BJP. PM Modi’s immense popularity is a testament to the fact that the average Indian citizen is no longer riddled by the labyrinths of minorities, religious communities and communalism. Progressive goals and schemes, like labour reforms, the Aadhaar programme, fight against bad loans, major divestment initiatives including those in sick PSUs such as Air India and Goods and Services Tax (GST), have helped garner widespread support for the ‘liberal and enterprising’ camp of BJP. Congress leadership, however, seems to be locked in a time-capsule. Congress’ failure to adapt to the changing needs and demands of society and its preoccupation with minority and religion-based agendas have attributed to its plummeting popularity.
Forging unity in the Opposition
Forging a unified and integrated opposition is no easy task and the politicians of the Opposition, instead of making compromises are meandering towards selfish goals. For example, in December 2015, when Akhilesh Yadav was asked whether Samajwadi Party would be open to an alliance with Congress, he had told NDTV: “If Mulayam Singh ji is prime minister and Rahul Gandhi is deputy prime minister, I will say yes to the alliance right now.” For similar reasons, all the three grand alliances of opposition parties that have been formed at a national level in India could not complete their terms after coming to power.
Until Wednesday, a unified alliance like the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ was perhaps the best route for the Opposition to arrest the saffron wave. With the exit of Bihar CM, Nitish Kumar, the Congress-led Opposition faces the serious issue of lacking a credible Prime Ministerial candidate for 2019. The national reach of the leaders that remain in the Opposition is low and there is no honest and popular politician, who can be projected as the leader of the Opposition. It is time for them to realize the aspirations of its magnanimous electorate, and to connect with its voters through new voices and politicians. Unless the Opposition is willing to clean its own image and make realistic compromises, the Lok Sabha elections will be a walkover for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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