Faheem Usmani Qasmi
Over five months ago, Lok Sabha elections polls in May 2019 were out, and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won a full majority. Not only BJP did manage to get an almost clean swipe in most of the states, but it also appeared on the verge of making history by garnering so many votes. Even after the results, one question that lingered in the air to many was – Why did the oppositions fail miserably even in states where their own government was functioning at the state level.
It is admitted fact that for a healthy democracy, a healthy opposition is as important as that of the ruling party. It plays an effective role in providing practical criticism of the ruling party. They ensure that the acts of the ruling party are not detrimental to the public interests or nation at large. So, for a democratic country, an alive and powerful apposition is of much significance, to protect its democratic values and fundamental rights. The absence of opposition weakens the country if it is not able to put a unified front against the ruling party. They do not allow the governing party to develop arrogant and autocratic deviations by assessing their policies objectively and also giving important inputs.
The history suggests that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so the opposition’s role is indispensable to pre-empt of the party in power to act against the will and interests of the people.
The importance of the opposition in a democracy cannot be more effectively illustrated by anyone other than the celebrated Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar who said in couplet 448 of his Thirukkural: “The king with none to censure him, bereft of safeguards all, though none his ruin work, shall surely ruined fall.” (The king, who is without the guard of men who can rebuke him, will perish, even though there be no one to destroy him.)
With an absolute majority of the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, generating muscular power to the party at the Centre, the danger of the tyranny of the majority loomed larger over the head of the Indian nation. So the country today is in a desperate need to have united, strong, committed, credible, and responsible opposition particularly when the ruling party –BJP may try to take more vigorous decisions to assimilate the nation and to secure a “Hindu Rashtra”.
The Lok Sabha electoral scenario had painted a grim picture in this regard as the opposition parties achieved a miserable defeat and were left with no hope of recovery. The Congress, the biggest party in opposition, faced a crushing defeat in the Lok Sbha and shrunk to 52 seats. As for the other major players, they are ridden with factionalism, casteism, self-centrism and infighting, thereby making them a laughing stock at this critical juncture.
The verdict from the recent assembly polls in Maharashtra revitalized the opposition parties once again. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) stalwart leader Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra, and Congress Jat leader Bhupinder Sing Hooda together with youthful newbie Dushyant Chautalal of the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) in Haryana exposed the BJP’s all agendas with outstanding performances that left incumbent chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Manohar Lal Khattar grasping as they failed to touch the majority mark.
It is more surprising for the reason that it came in a time when the Amit Shah-led BJP is dominating the entire national political landscape. The fractured results of these first round assembly elections, after Modi’s incredible victory in the general elections less than six months ago, leave several massages for both the BJP and oppositions. Though it may be very early to speculate the recent result is a turning point in today’s politics, the significance of the outcome and its likely consequences in the upcoming assembly elections cannot be avoided.
However, what the Maharashtra and Haryana polls have shown is that regional political parties along with their satraps are alive and kicking particularly when they were pushed to the wall. NCP president Sharad Pawar drew the attention of all people who ran an energetic campaign at the age of 79 and boosted himself as the leading face of the opposition. One of his images from Satara stunned every one where he stood in the pouring rain and invoked Maratians. Hooda and Dushyant Chutala too campaigned vigorously in Haryana. Although they did not touch victory mark but managed to slow down the Modi juggernaut
It is high time for Congress too to take a lesson and realize why it was given hefty shove that it fell so behind. Now the Congress party must think over to nurture regional leaders giving them political space to operate if it really wants to stand strong in front of BJP.
All the opposition parties and regional leaders should review their political strategies to give a tough fight in the current political arena because a strong and effective opposition is the need of the hour to nail the elected government down to be transparent, responsive and accountable and does not let it assume arbitrariness in its actions neglecting the interests of the nation. Such opposition is incumbent in assembly or parliament to promote a responsible and reasonable debate in the decision-making process.
In the last, kudos to the people of Maharashtra and Haryana who proved that false agenda of hyper-nationalism can no longer brush aside their core concerns. The BJP always weaves its election campaign narrative around some particular agendas such as hyper-nationalism, Pakistan, and other muscular issues. It does make no attempt to ensure the people for the development of the country or of the state. But people from both the states showed that their prime worries were unemployment, agrarian distress, farmers’ suicides, poverty, women harassment, mob-violence and rapidly declining economy and other bread-and-butter issues cannot be avoided at all.
The Writer is an Islamic Scholar, a graduate of Darul Uloom Deoband (World’s largest Islamic Seminary) and currently working as a Teacher at Markazul Ma’arif, Mumbai.