Opposition parties’ bid to regroup

Nitya Chakraborty

The opposition parties have at last set in motion their campaign programme at national level to combat the divisive policies of the Narendra Modi Government. After a lot of setbacks including  the  departure of the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to the NDA, the 16 opposition parties have set up a committee headed by the JD(U) leader Sharad  Yadav to hold conventions in all the states on the pattern of the August 17 Delhi conclave on the theme of Save Composite Culture. The focus is broad and this has the possibility of bringing within its fold the non party elements of the society who are against the communal and anti-people policies of the BJP.
The opposition has very little time and it has to protect the unity which it has achieved at the August 17 convention. Now the immediate task should be to focus on the states which are going for elections later this year and also early next year.BJP President Amit Shah has set the BJP target at 360 for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as against the present strength of 282. He is solely depending on the disunity in the opposition ranks since by no stretch of imagination, the BJP can hope to reach near this figure in the present stage of the economy and social situation in the country. In fact, in an earlier meeting of the BJP think tank, the BJP president mentioned that out of the existing 282 sears, 100 seats are vulnerable in the 2019 elections and the BJP has to focus on 150 new seats. The opposition can smash BJP’s dream run in 2019  Lok Sabha polls if the parties come to a sort of maximum understanding on the seats so that the anti-BJP votes are not divided.
The ground reality is very grim. The core values of the Indian nation have been challenged by the Modi Government and one by one, the institutions are being saffronised. The educational institutions are suffering most. Instead of encouraging scientific temper, the superstitious beliefs are being encouraged at the highest level. The sense of insecurity among the minority communities and dalits, has spread at all levels. Amidst this social turmoil, the Indian economy is going downhill as a result of the wrong policies of the Modi Government. The informal economy is in shambles and the most affected are the poorest in the villages and the minorities. Their living standards have gone down suddenly.
The opposition has to fight the BJP unitedly with all its strength and that gives special responsibility to the Congress which is the main party fighting the BJP in the next round of elections in Himachal and Gujarat. The present Save Composite Culture committee has to act as the fulcrum to bring maximum anti-BJP people under it. The Congress, as the major opposition party fighting the BJP in Himachal and Gujarat, have to seek with humility the assistance from other opposition parties. In Himachal and Gujarat, there can be good understanding with the BSP which has got some bases in both the states. The CPI and the CPI(M) have also got some small bases in both these election going states this year. Ways have to be found out to forge maximum understanding so that the left votes are not wasted and it go to the anti-BJP front in full.
As of now, the ground situation in Gujarat is tough for the Congress on the eve of the assembly elections, but there are possibilities also if the Congress takes the help of all anti-BJP forces and mobilize its supporting masses with gusto. The victory of the veteran leader Ahmad Patel in the recent Rajya Sabha elections, has given some morale boost to the Congress workers and that should be fully galvanized to strengthen the party organization. The BJP in the state is not as comfortable as before. With both Narendra Modi and Amit Shah out of the state politics, the second rate leaders with little acceptability are dominating. There is mass resentment against the BJP government. The Congress is still influential in rural Gujarat but it is weak in the urban areas. The Congress think tank has to draw up a new strategy for bringing disgruntled BJP workers and other people in its fold in the urban areas. The BSP support can be of good help in some marginal seats. The moot point is that the Congress has to behave as a winning party. The task is tough but not impossible.
The Congress leadership has shown its flexibility by agreeing to make Sharad Yadav convener of the opposition committee. The same attitude of respect towards the other opposition parties must guide the Congress in the coming months. Similarly the CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has a formidable task. He is a prominent member of the opposition committee and both Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Yadav respect him for his expertise and understanding in evolving a correct strategy. His hands may not be free as the dominant leadership of his party is doggedly against any electoral understanding with the Congress. Yechury has to make use of his skill to ensure that even without violating the 2015 Party Congress programme, some mechanism can be worked out to ensure that the left votes in the poll bound states, are cast  in favour of the main opposition Congress to defeat BJP, if there is no left candidate there. At the end of the day, the electoral victory decides power. The time is ripe for an anti-BJP front and both the Congress and the Left have to be a part of that. (IPA)

Thursday, 31 August, 2017