Challenges before Opposition

Nitya Chakraborty

For the opposition parties of the country, including the Congress, July 11 was a memorable day. Not only, the eighteen opposition parties agreed on a common candidate Gopal Krishna Gandhi as the vice-presidential candidate for elections on August 5, but in an unusual development, the entire opposition agreed at the same meeting to hold a countrywide campaign against the centre’s policies. The proposal was pushed by the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee but taking into account the miserable situation in which both the polity and the economy of the country have landed now after three years of rule by the NDA government led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, only a massive campaign on the people’s demands by the united opposition in the next two years, can lead to the possibility of the removal of the Modi regime from the centre after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
At long last, the Congress Party has shown some respect to the sensibility of the other opposition parties. As regards the Presidential nominee, the Congress through dillydallying gave the BJP the opportunity to play the dalit card first. The Party followed it later only but it could have avoided it if the Congress would have agreed to Gopal Gandhi as the Presidential candidate initially itself.
A positive development of the VP candidate nomination for the opposition is that finally, they have chosen the best possible candidate in the country. Gopal Gandhi is the symbol of what represents the core values of this great nation India that is Bharat. He is the best man for the opposition at this hour when the Modi regime is destroying one by one the core values which this great country inherited through its long freedom struggle. Gopal Gandhi is just not the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, he is the best fusion of tradition with modernity. He is the best person who can articulate with equal ease his strong views against the saffronisation of education and culture along with the Prime Minister’s latest stand on love fest with Israel while fully ignoring the existence of the Palestine State. Gopal Gandhi had the guts to write about Israel visit of Narendra Modi “I would not raise objections to prime Minister Modi’s visit per se. But what I find surprising, even shocking, is that the visit should have taken place as if the Arabs do not exist, the Palestine state is a myth and that the only reality of that Holy Land is Israel, Israel and more Israel”. At a time when the other retired IFS officers are keeping silent at the murder of India’s long lasting foreign policy, Gopal Gandhi had t act as the conscience of the nation to call a spade a spade.
After 37 months of BJP rule, the country is in a big crisis. There is no security for the minorities, the informal economy is in tatters. The demonetisation and restrictions on cattle markets have hit the informal economy hard. The official agencies have not made proper studies .The ground reality is that the decline in sales and prices spreads from the informal sector to the formal sector. The Modi government is talking of high value FDI and concessions to foreign retailers but no focus is there on dealing with the ills that have plagued the informal sector. As regards the job generation, the situation is pathetic. Only foreign investments are coming in high technology areas creating limited jobs. Indian companies are not investing as they feel that the foreigners are getting more facilities under Modi regime. Make in India programmes are not achieving any success. The public sector enterprises are getting raw deal.
A recent CMIE report says that about1.5 million jobs were lost during January-April 2017. So that is the net result of acche din and job generation programme. The estimated total employment during the January-April period of 2017 was 405 million compared to 406.5 million during the preceding four months of September-December 2016.As per the report, the lasting effect of demonetisation is apparent in the fall in labour participation rate. The rate fell to 44.5 per cent in February 2017 and then to 44 per cent in March and 43.5 per cent in April 2017.This shows that new investments are falling and for a developing economy like India, the drop in labour participation means slowdown.
As discussed by the opposition parties at July 11 meeting, the joint campaign of the opposition should focus on farmers distress, the ills of informal economy, the retrenchments, layoffs and the acute unemployment situation apart from the urgent political issues like fighting communalism at every level. All the peasants organisations, trade unions, civil society activists have to be associated with this massive campaign. The Left must play a very active role in this campaign. It has the opportunity to revive its organization by taking a lead in this massive struggle. Maximum use has to be made of social media in a planned manner to combat the attacks by the saffrons.
At the political level, the state assembly elections are due this year in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat and in both these states, the Congress is the main political party to fight BJP. The Congress this time has to seek maximum cooperation from all anti-BJP forces to fight the BJP. It will be a very tough battle but the Congress and its allies have to prepare themselves for this crucial electoral battle as the outcome will have its impact on the series of assembly elections in 2018 having final impact on 2019 Lok Sabha poll. For the Congress and the opposition, there is no time to lose. (IPA)

Tuesday, 18 July, 2017