A directionless, divided opposition on road to self-destruction

By Dr Satish Misra. Dated: 10/9/2019 1:17:06 AM

The opposition-entire opposition- is gasping for breath not knowing what or how to do, where to go and when to strike and why to exist with its credibility touching a historic low.
While it is becoming more than obvious that outcome of the coming assembly elections in the state of Haryana and Maharashtra on 21 October is going to be one sided with the BJP in the former and BJP-Shiv Sena in the latter are going to sweep the electoral battle to retain power for another five years, the opposition is in a definite state of disarray with its leaders either deserting respective parties or staging rebellion for not getting their pound of flesh.
Both the main opposition parties have recently suffered from desertions with their leaders walking over either to the BJP or the Shiv Sena. More than two dozen prominent leaders from the two parties have opted for self and power showing scant regard to either ideology or loyalty to their respective organisations.
Taking a close look at developments in Maharashtra where the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are the main opposition parties with Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), All India Majlis-e-Ittehad -ul-Musilmeen (AIMIM) along with host of smaller parties are contesting against ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance.
While both the NCP and the Congress were keen to strike an electoral alliance with the Prakash Ambedkar-led VBA, to avoid division of anti-saffron votes, understanding could not be reached because of the latter's demand for more seats-a number that NCP and Congress could have given if the two had decided to close their shops resulting in eventual self-destruction. Incidentally, Prakash is the grandson of iconic Dalit leader and maker of the country's constitution Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar. The VBA had contested 2019 Lok Sabha polls in an electoral alliance with AIMIM with the latter winning Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat and the former drawing a blank though it had succeeded in damaging the winning chances of at least 10 Congress-NCP candidates and helping the BJP-Shiv Sena to win those seats.
But what is most surprising is the breaking of the alliance between VBA and the AIMIM. In this case too, the alliance broke off on the issue of number of seats that each party wanted to contest. The VBA was not willing to concede more than 10 seats to AIMIM while the latter was keen to contest between 50 to 60 seats. The VBA has fielded candidates on more than 200 seats while AIMIM focusing on 60 odd seats that has around 10 or more percent of Muslim voters. Breaking of the VBA-AIMIM alliance is a classic case of over-ambitious leaders who overestimate their outreach and popular acceptability.
The situation is no different in Haryana where the two opposition parties namely the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) are faction -ridden and their respective leaders fighting among themselves rather taking head on the BJP that had formed the government in 2014 after winning 47 seats in a 90-member assembly. The INLD and the Congress had won 19 and 15 seats respectively.
The INLD has split into two owing to running feud in the former Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhary Devi Lal family with both damaging each other while the Congress is facing a terrible faction fight with two times Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda hell bent to turn the state unit of the 134 year old party into his personal fiefdom forcing other leaders to either quit the Congress or lie low and strike back at an opportune time.
The BJP won all the 10 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 by huge margins with the saffron party continuously increasing its vote base from 17 percent in 2009 assembly elections to 34 percent in 2014 and over 58 percent in the recent parliamentary elections.
Politics is Haryana was always a game of opportunity with the state being known for 'Aya Ram and Gaya Ram' when the entire party led by former Congress Chief Minister Bhajan Lal walking to the Congress in 1979 to occupy the chief ministerial chair. In the last five years, 25 percent of the legislators who were elected on non-BJP tickets in 2014 assembly elections have joined the BJP creating a problem of plenty for the saffron outfit.
After Hooda had threatened to float his own party, the Congress party's central leadership agreed to remove Pradesh Congress Committee chief- one- time Lok Sabha from Sirsa MP Ashok Tanwar. After his removal, Tanwar first flexed his muscles and then quit the party when his demands were ignored rather overlooked by the party national leadership.
Both Hooda and Tanwar acted in their limited self-interest rather than working unitedly to strengthen the party. In the process, they have chosen to destroy their parent organization that gave them identity and popular recognition.
Story is no different in other states as the BJP despite being in power for over five years is not only facing any anti-incumbency but are on the verge of scoring much larger victories than in 2014. In majority of the states, the opposition is a directionless lot that has not been able to grasp the changes that RSS-BJP has brought into the political system of the country through Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his comrade-in-arms Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Need for the opposition unity was never so urgent before because the country is facing its worst crisis since 1947. The way almost all the institutions and constitutional positions -autonomous or otherwise- are either being destroyed, undermined and compromised is unprecedented. Even much dreaded emergency imposed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975 pales into a poor shadow what is happening now without resorting to a formal declaration of emergency.
Therefore, the Indian parliamentary democracy is on a deathbed slowly but surely losing one vital organ after the other. The opposition parties are deeply divided and are essentially engaged in acts of hara-kiri which means destroying each other instead of focusing upon their main rival- the ruling BJP.
—[IFS]

 

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