The landslide victory of the BJP-led National Democratic Assembly in 2014 over the “Modi wave” is seen as a watershed moment in the history of Indian politics. This is not the first time that the BJP has managed to establish itself as a force in its own right, the party has managed to show it as a victory for more than 1.2 billion Indians. The perception of the government, and Narendra Modi as its leader, was such that the after-effects of the Lok Sabha election results continued to spread in elections in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, MP, Chhattisgarh, Assam, and others as Saffron. The tsunami swept most of the country.
Clearly Modi was winning the battle of perceptions. It was clear that “Modi against all” was only contributing to the rise of the Modi phenomenon. And the more personal the opposition’s attacks on Modi were, the more he seemed to benefit from them. Years later, one might assume that the opposition would have learned its lessons, especially after the 2019 election result.
But with elections approaching in five states, which will likely set the tone for the Lok Sabha elections in 2024, the opposition looks as divided as ever. Congress has its own predicament, and its version of the polls is, once again, focused solely on criticizing the NDA government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I, I, Myself Syndrome”
So why has the opposition, and specifically Congress, been late to turn the table, despite all these years that have seen a host of issues such as the pandemic, GST, demonization, high fuel prices, alleged rising unemployment and economic collapse to name a few? Is it a lack of understanding on the part of the Congress and other opposition parties? Or is the problem deeper?
“What we are seeing is the case of me, me, myself under Mr. Modi. So the opposition has no other choice. Even if you criticize the government, people will say ‘Modi ko ye bola’ (They said this against Modi). Author and journalist Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay told FinancialExpress. .com: “BJP TV experts are turning public criticism of government policies into a personal attack on Mr. Modi and the country.” Mukhopadhyay, who has tracked Modi for years, says these personal attacks were the result of “Mr. Modi’s conscious move toward personalizing the government.” This left the opposition in the end with no other choice.
Narinder Kumar, Professor of Political Science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, believes that there is nothing abnormal in the opposition’s narrative about the performance and failure of government.
“For the opposition, you can’t make a narrative without taking into account the failures of the ruling party because unless you highlight the flaws of the government, you will not be able to present your point of view. To a large extent, in a democracy, the opposition’s narrative depends on how the ruling party responds to the issues,” Kumar told the website. FinancialExpress.com.
However, he acknowledges that the opposition was unable to target the ruling party on the right issues. It is unable to address the major issues the way it should be done. It can also be said that the ruling party has completely controlled the communication channels because of which an opposition party fails to achieve success even if it comes with constructive criticism.”
Experts point out that the opposition has three main tasks – one of which is to highlight the flaws of the ruling party. The second is to offer an alternative, and the third is to cooperate with the government when it does a good job and not just oppose it for the sake of opposition. Political commentator Amitabh Tiwari believes that since Congress has never been in opposition for long, he does not know how to act like him.
It has not been able to highlight the government’s failures in an effective manner. “For example, Congress said the decision to abolish the money or economic policies of the government was wrong, but it did not make clear what the government should have done right, or what it would have done had they been in power. So, this is missing — providing an alternative.
Don’t rule out our successes: Congress
But Congress maintains that it not only kept its account of the Modi government’s alleged failures, but also highlighted its success stories on the accounts, where the current exemption is alleged to have failed. “In the past seven years, there has been one failure after another by the BJP and this cannot be forgotten. We need to remind people that this happens when an incompetent government governs. It cannot be possible that this happens when an incompetent government rules,” Congress spokesperson Anshul Avijit told FinancialExpress.com. This is the forgotten story.
“During UPA, apart from economic growth, social justice and gender equality, we have done unprecedented work on all fronts. So, we do not discount our successes at all. We remind people that this is what happens when there is effective government, and this is what happens when There will be ineffective government.
The opposition lacks the vision to offer an alternative
The need for a healthy opposition becomes even more important in these times when the government has an overwhelming majority in Parliament, where bills are passed with little or no debate or discussion.
Many political scholars are of the opinion that Indian politics has gone back to the days of one-party dominance, with the Bharatiya Janata Party replacing the Congress.
So, who is responsible for putting India’s democracy in the position it is now? Mukhopadhyay sees a divided opposition responsible for the growing power of the current regime. The opposition unit index is at an all-time low. After May, it seemed that the opposition unity index would rise, but they showed us once again that they were fighting amongst themselves. The Congress is fighting among themselves, it is fighting with the Samajwadi Party and also in disagreement with the BSP and the Adami General Party.”
The opposition has no vision to present an alternative to the issues. What is actually needed at this point is for all the opposition parties to return to the inverted anti-Congressionalism that once existed. You had all kinds of ideological opponents just like Ram Manohar Lohia and Dendayal Upadhyay, as they formed an alliance to defeat the Congress. Likewise, they need to form an anti-BJP front in order to reduce the division of anti-BJP votes,” he says.