Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Has Opposition Grown Weak In Democratic India?

Though in the assemblies, there are strong regional parties to play opposition role. But, as on national level, with the infighting of BJP and its weakness there seems to be not any effective opposition. Will it give the UPA a free hand to govern as per its will?

Despite anti-incumbency factors, the spectacular victory of Congress-led UPA in the 15th Lok Sabha general elections was an indication that its rival National Democratic Alliance led by BJP has grown weaker. In 2004 elections NDA had lost power to UPA and since then it seems as if it has been destined to declination. It is not a good sign for a democracy.

Though it is too early to predict of a one-party rule, sooner or later it is going to be if the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party continues to ignore the mindset of common Indians. It is near to impossible for any party, in normal situations, to come to centre without taking other-than-Hindus into confidence. What majority of Hindus believe in is secularism and not communalism. Despite the fact that the written ideology of BJP consists of secular norms, the party from its very formation in 1951 has been trying to lay the foundation of its victory on exploitation of the emotions of Hindu community against minorities.

Since the constitutions of BJP talks of “Integral Humanism” instead of “Hinduism”, the party seems to have gone astray from its real path. "The party is pledged to build up India as a strong and prosperous nation, which is modern, progressive and enlightened in outlook and which proudly draws inspiration from India's ancient culture and values and thus is able to emerge as a great world power playing an effective role in the comity of Nations for the establishment of world peace and a just international order. The Party aims at establishing a democratic state which guarantees to all citizens irrespective of caste, creed or sex, political, social and economic justice, equality of opportunity and liberty of faith and expression. The Party shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.”

Had the BJP been an adherent to these principles, Muslims and other minorities would not have taken it as anti-minorities. Being a political wing of the Hindu radical outfit Rashtriya Swamasevak Sangh, it is difficult for BJP to go against its anti-Muslim, rather anti-minorities, stand; something which must be changed to revive in a cosmopolitan India crowned with title of ‘biggest democracy in the world’.

If only Gujarat, for example, were to decide the fate of BJP in the centre then its assertion on the politically moved commitment of changing India into a Hindu Rashtra would have carried some sense. The minorities, read other than upper caste Hindus, in a large number of the 28 states and seven union territories are king maker.

Once Babri Masjid was demolished in BJP-ruled UP, the party lost the subsequent assembly elections in 1993 to the regional Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. The internal differences between SP and BSP later allowed BJP to resume power but not for long. Now, the UP politics has become regional and to retain power appears to be a dream for BJP.

The blossoming of the Lotus in South India for the first time ever, was a great triumph for the BJP. But important is to maintain the same position. With a considerable number of MLAs led by Reddy brothers of Bellary going against the Karnataka BJP Chief Minister Y.S. Yeddyurappa, the party faced a severe setback and was on the brim of division. The removal of some minsters and appointment of others on some of the posts as per the demand of the Reddys, though had pacified the issue for then, insurgency against Yeddyurappa seems to have emerged again.

According to the media reports, dissident MLAs and ministers in the B S Yeddyurappa government held a closed-door meeting at a resort on the outskirts of Bangalore city on December 14 and sent a list of demands to Chief Minister with the warning that they would resign if he failed to fulfil their demands by December 21.

They are demanding that several ministers be dropped from the Cabinet. The list includes - Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Hartalu Halappa and PWD Minister C M Udasi. Their demand is also of appointing various boards and corporations change in district-in-charge ministers and allocation of more funds to constituencies represented by the dissidents.

At a time when BJP needs to expand its hold to other states to come out of the crisis it went through during the last Lok Sabha general elections, it is not a good omen for it to lose the states where it is already dominant.

The BJP has already lost many seats in myriad states to the rival Congress reducing its total of 138 in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections to merely 116 in 2009. The Congress, on the other hand bagged 61 more seats in 2009 taking the tally to 206; the highest ever achieved by a single party in the coalition era.

BJP defeat in 14th LS Elections also smashed Mr. L K Advani’s Dream of becoming PM

In Uttarakhand where BJP had snatched the rule from Congress in 2007, the former was defeated on all the five Lok Sabha seats in 2009.

Whether they were the Lok Sabha or the assembly elections in 2009, BJP failed to give a fight to the Congress. In Maharashtra, BJP and its ally Shiv Sena failed not only to check the Congress to come to the rule for the consecutive third time, they also saw a decline in their seats. If one compares the 1995 Maharashtra assembly elections result-in which Congress won 80, BJP 65 and Shiv Sena 73- to the assembly elections 2009 they find that the saffron parties have been on continuous decline. As in the elections BJP could registered its victory over 46 and Shiv Sena on 44 seats while Congress on 82 seats despite the anti-incumbency factor.

In Arunachal Pradesh 2009, elections Congress gained 8+seats and BJP lost six seats in comparison to the previous elections.

While Congress is becoming stronger by the passage of the day, the BJP and other regional parities, for example SP in UP and RJD in Bihar, have been getting weaker. As usual with any weak organization or community, differences emerge among them naturally. It has stunned their very foundation besides sending a message to public as to how the parties engaged in internal war will be able to lead a government either in the centre or at state level.

The exposure of the intention behind Building Ram Mandir and other provocative slogans seems to have shaken the belief of common Hindus in it. With the promise of building Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, BJP fooled the Hindus to grab centre twice in 1998 and 1999 but it did not live up to its promise.

Just some months back the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who had asked the top BJP leadership to sort out problems in the wake of Lok Sabha debacle, suggested that party needs a "surgery" or even "chemotherapy" treatment. "As far as BJP is concerned, whatever surgery, medicine, chemotherapy is essential for them, it has to be diagnosed.”

The most worrisome in this context is not that BJP is growing weaker but that there seems to be no opposition on national level to the Congress party. It may give a free hand to it for doing the things as per will. This fear is valid. Indira Gandhi announced an unopposed National Emergency in 1975.

It was the opposition that did not let the UPA pass the Indo-Us nuclear agreement with ease. Had there not been a split among the opposition the government would have been dissolved and had not there been a strong opposition the UPA would have finalised the deal without even contemplating the agitation by common Indians.

The strong opposition is instrumental to maintain the true spirit of democracy. The present situation of the opposition is an alarming bell to the future of democracy in India.

By: Staff Writer

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