Nitish opts out

Nitish Kumar has opted out of the race. He has said he is not going to be the Opposition’s prime ministerial face in the 2019 general elections. He has gone further and given enough hint that he is not feeling comfortable in the company of Lalu Yadav and the Congress. Also, he does not accept Rahul as a possible candidate for the top job. He may not walk out of the alliance or mahagathabandhan immediately for the same reasons that Lalu is unwilling to break the alliance right now. Even if the uneasy alliance lasts for the remaining three and a half years of its tenure, it will not survive after that.
Several problems stand in the way of the Opposition presenting a credible alternative to the NDA Government, There is no ideological and programmatic unity among them. Leaders of the parties have conflicting ambitions. Usually, the presence of a strong party with a national outreach acts as the leaven for opposition unity. The Congress once held that premier position. But its organizational strength and political influence have declined over the years. Indeed, after Indira Gandhi the Congress could not present to the country a leader of her stature and charisma. Rajiv won a handsome majority cashing in on the tragic death of this mother. But by the end of his term, he had lost much of the sheen. His son Rahul has not even risen to his father’s stature. Even Congressmen have strong reservations about him. That is why, an ailing Sonia Gandhi has still to provide leadership to the party. Even the party elders are not prepared to accept Rahul as their leader.
The result is that the BJP is all set for getting a walkover in the next elections in 2019, despite all its omissions and commissions. A large section of the population is not happy about the BJP’s blatantly communal politics, its attempts at dividing the society along communal lines, its failure to keep its election promises and its authoritarian way of conducting statecraft. But they find no credible alternative before them. The Opposition parties have let them down. These parties could not even unitedly set up an opposition candidate for the president’s office. The result of the contest between Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar is a foregone conclusion. As things stand, it would be idle to expect perfect Opposition unity by 2019. The Opposition will again fail to stand by the people.

Thursday, 6 July, 2017