A united opposition, a distant dream or a reality: Regional parties are thriving…
India has changed and it is changing rapidly. As our democracy is getting matured with the passage of time, one thing is still missing i.e., a strong national opposition. It is important to have an effective opposition to make democracy work for the people. Infact, it plays an inevitable role in governance. A constructive opposition can make sure that the ruling government works in the interest of the country and the people, course corrects the policies of the government, accelerates the speed of governance, curbs chances of corruption, and contributes to the growth and nation building in a big way.
As the Congress is weakening day by day, India is missing a strong credible national opposition both in the parliament and outside the parliament. Over 60 years, the Congress has ruled the country and produced some great leaders. Unfortunately, the grand old party of India is now facing the biggest challenge of the century with the least parliamentary presence. Without a strong leadership, very few states in command, and many young and senior leaders are either leaving the party or not in action, it is an existential crisis for the Congress. The Congress is still considered as the main national opposition party against the BJP, but in many states the Congress is now a junior partner in the coalition. Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Maharashtra are just a few of them.
While on the other side regional parties are becoming stronger in their respective states. In the recent election, Mamta Banerjee and her party the Trinamool Congress won an extremely challenging election with a great margin in West Bengal. MK Stalin of the DMK won and came back to power in Tamil Nadu. Sharad Pawar still calls the shots in Maharashtra. In Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the national parties like the BJP and the Congress are not electorally significant. In UP, both BSP & SP may be weak but these family-owned parties are more prominent voices and stronger than the Congress. In Bihar too, the Congress is junior to Lalu Yadav's RJD. Once a major national party, the communist parties are now reduced to Kerala and have become irrelevant, nationally.
Since this is the political realities of today, who will lead a national opposition is the talk of the town. Most of these regional leaders have national aspirations and some of them don’t like to be with the Congress as a junior partner. While Stalin may not be a contender to lead from the front, Mamta considers herself to be the most prominent and successful leader to take on the BJP and Modi. A veteran and real political Chanakya Sharad Pawar, a strong man in Maharashtra who has a say in the UPA too, is in fray to lead the opposition. With huge question marks on their leadership quality, most of these prominent opposition leaders are not ready to work with Rahul Gandhi.
Hence the question is; will these regional players come together with the Congress to create a strong national front against the BJP and Modi? Or will the Congress finally concede to Mamata or Pawar and support them to lead? Is the Congress now ready to be a junior partner like it is in many other states nationally? While the answers to these questions may not be given quickly or readily, one thing is very clear, Narendra Modi still stands tall even after 7 years in power without any major and strong opposition. Is this good for the country? In PM Modi's words, ‘The role of an active, credible and strong opposition is very important in parliamentary democracy.’
All the opposition parties are aware of PM Modi’s popularity and unless they come together, they will never be capable of taking on the mighty Prime Minister. But the question remains ‘Who will tie the bell on the cat's neck?’