In a recent article on a news site, a reporter asked if Mr. Narendra Modi was beatable. He further asks what it will take to beat him and is there anyone who is really trying to beat him. This is indeed a relevant question because the year 2024 is not so far away. In any democracy, a healthy and alternative option is always welcome. Does India today pride itself on such an option? Nationally, all opposition political parties have let the nation down in this regard, with Congress being the biggest culprit.
Political parties cannot become viable oppositions or alternatives if they place family loyalty above national interests. Congress is a prime example of this syndrome. This has resulted in their sharp decline, especially since 2009 when the party chairman installed a flexible Dr Manmohan Singh as prime minister instead of Mr Pranab Mukherjee. Today, the party has only 52 Lok Sabha MPs, a figure that does not even meet the 10% criterion for their leader to be designated as Leader of the Opposition (LOP). For a party that has ruled the country for nearly six decades since 1947, this is indeed pathetic.
Given the current political environment in the country, it may be safe to rule out that a party and its leader dethrone the BJP and Mr. Modi in 2024. This is a harsh reality and the opposition knows it. Purists can argue that this is not good for democracy, and rightly so. But that will not change this harsh truth. Is there a likelihood that a combined opposition will accomplish this seemingly impossible task? Is there a basic leader in the opposition ranks who can compete with Mr. Modi?
Mr. Modis’ strong traits are a selfless commitment to the nation, an intrepid approach to all that is in the national interest, belief in India and Indianness, avoiding appeasement, showing compassion and humanity when necessary. As a politician, he is invariably many steps ahead of his opponents. In political discourse, it has no equal. Internationally, he surprised everyone with the stature he has achieved. There is no challenger in the opposition that comes even closer in comparison.
The Congress party and its top leaders have not learned their lessons as they continue to project Rahul Gandhi as their candidate for prime minister. It is another matter that the whole nation thinks otherwise. It may be fair to assume that the party will have the maximum number of MPs among all opposition parties, even in 2024. Will this alone be enough for other opposition parties to accept Rahul Gandhi as their leader? undisputed? This is highly unlikely unless Congress dramatically increases the number of its seats. This may not happen because regional parties may not welcome congressional candidates to their fiefdoms. They may prefer to increase their own numbers to increase their bargaining power in any coalition that may take shape.
The only other opposition leader who has some national recall is TMC’s Mamata Banerjee. She cultivated an image of a fighter by taking on Mr. Modi and the BJP on almost everything. If a coalition were to take shape through divine intervention, would Mamata ever accept Rahul Gandhi as prime minister? There’s a good chance she won’t, especially since in recent times many opposition leaders have seen her as their leader of choice.
All opposition political parties, except Congress, are region-centered. Among the large states, the BJP has no seats in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which represent 59 seats in Lok Sabha. Today, out of the 90 seats in Maharashtra and West Bengal, the BJP has about 40. To hope to form a coalition government in 2024, the opposition must do extremely well in those four states and win at least 120 of the 149 seats on offer, and then manage another 155 seats from the rest of India.
This arithmetic is only possible in two scenarios. First, if some current NDA allies, mainly from Andhra, Telangana, Bihar and Odisha, change their loyalty to the opposition and inflate their jackpots from 50 to 60 seats. Second, if the BJP fails in some Hindi belt states of the UP, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and the MP, where currently the NDA holds 163 of the 204 seats in total. It can be safe to predict that either of these scenarios is highly unlikely.
Has the BJP done enough in the past seven years and will it do enough over the next three years to secure a third consecutive victory? Nationally and in the broader interest of the nation, it indeed has accomplishments that no government might ever have dared to address. The list includes the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A, the Triple Talaq Bill, the implementation of the GST, the demonetization, the strikes in Pakistan, the resistance to China at the border and the end of the litigation of Ayodhya. The NDA governments’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been commendable despite some setbacks, despite criticism from the opposition. India’s international position has seen a change for the better, including relations with states in the Middle East. On other national fronts such as the economy, agriculture, job creation, education, health, etc. Will this whole report card from Mr. Modis’ government lead to a third triumph?
No commentary on Mr. Modi or the NDA government is complete without reference to the subject of community polarization. Opposition and government critics attribute this to BJP Hindutwa’s policies a term without definition, meaning or credibility. The point is, the Muslim community is being misled by its own and the opposition in the name of votes. Credulity is a weakness of the community that stems from its fear of speaking out and not accepting the realities as they exist in the country. The current government has not sponsored any community discord. This dubious distinction is held by some individuals within communities who place religion above the nation. It is up to the communities to call these individuals and see through the harmful conceptions.
While community polarization is a myth, political polarization is a reality in our country today. He forced all opposition parties to unite around two clear goals. First, they want to defeat Mr. Modi and the BJP at all costs. Second, they are all hoping that a miracle will happen that will give the opposition the chance to form a government. These parties may fight the elections as separate identities for selfish motives, but if the NDA does not have a majority, bar none, they will come together like a swarm of bees, not only to prevent Mr. Modi and the NES to enter, but also for the opportunity to share the spoils of victory. Thus, the Indian political class today is clearly divided into two groups, the NDA group led by the BJP and the opposition group whose leadership is still not defined. It’s as close to a two-party system as India will ever be able to come in the foreseeable future.
India has experienced very unlikely national poll results in the past. Voters have often shown that their criteria for voting in national and state elections vary because the issues and priorities involved are not the same. BJP hopes the Modi magic continues to work. If these two factors prevail, then nothing will prevent the BJP from returning to power in 2024. Unfortunately, the opposition or its leaders have done very little in the past seven years to convince voters that they can offer a vote. better governance than Mr. Modi. and the BJP. In all likelihood, they will pay the price for letting the nation down with their negativity and inability to be constructive opposition.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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