Message from the Maidan

The message that leaders of almost all non-BJP parties gave from Kolkata Maidan on Saturday evening was crystal clear: to save democracy, constitution and the secular character of our polity, the first thing that is necessary is to oust the RSS-BJP combine from power. All other issues are secondary. Who will become the next Prime Minister from the opposition is irrelevant. What is relevant is to end the diarchy of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. From the speeches made by different party leaders with their own viewpoints, three common points emerged. The first was that the Rafale issue which was taken up first by Congress president Rahul Gandhi has now become the common issue of the entire opposition. Second, that the BJP is engaged in divisive politics of setting different sections of the people against one another and if this politics succeed the country will disintegrate. Third, that the opposition parties will, in the coming days and weeks, sit together and hammer out their poll strategy and draw up a common minimum programme.
One of the major absentees in the opposition rally was the Left or, to be more specific, the CPM. It is still deluding itself by believing – or pretending to believe – that the BJP and the Trinamool Congress are but two faces of the same coin and both have to be fought simultaneously. As the Left has successfully marginalized itself in national politics, its stand will only isolate itself further from the united front of the opposition parties against the BJP government which is now in the making. It will be a minor loss for the opposition but a major loss for the Left themselves. If the present stand of the opposition parties – not to quarrel over who will be the next prime minister – continues until after the elections, their electoral victory will be    more or less assured
The real problem will arise at the time of government formation. In the interest of the people, the opposition parties should tentatively agree – without giving it premature publicity – as to who should be their leader before plunging into the poll campaign. Such a tacit agreement will make government formation smooth and without hitch. If the parties start quarrelling over the loaves and fishes of office on the morrow of victory, they will betray the trust of the people and play straight into the hands of the BJP. The message from the Maidan is for unity – before and after the elections so that the new government completes its full tenure of five years.

Saturday, 19 January, 2019