For success of a democracy, it is important that a strong and stable Government is there in the country. But more than that, it is important for a strong and trustworthy Opposition to be there. Today, a stable Government is present in the country, but where is the strong and trustworthy Opposition? The credentials of the Congress Party have been spoilt so much that it doesn’t even have the required number of Lok Sabha MPs to become Leader of the Opposition. The people’s trust in the Congress has been broken. The second problem is that the Congress Party is not doing anything either to win back the people’s trust. After the elections, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi have become passive. So the question arises: will an era of one party dominance — which can prove to be dangerous for democracy — return to the country once again? If the Congress becomes dormant, then it will be the responsibility of the regional parties to come forward and build a strong Opposition. A possible step in this direction was taken at Jind in Haryana recently: a rally of lakhs of people was held and Nitish Kumar fulfilled his duty by taking the initiative to unite the Janata Parivar, and thereby start a new turn in politics.
Jind, which is at the center of Haryana from a geographical point of view, became the center of politics in Haryana on September 25 this year. Since morning itself the flags of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) were flying on the streets of Haryana and supporters were in a rush to reach Jind. From Rohtak, about 60 kms from Jind, the roads were packed completely with vehicles. On the left and right sides of National Highway 41 and in the lanes at the side of the road caravans of INLD supporters were trying to move. There were jams everywhere and everywhere there was slogan shouting.
The condition on the roads was such that it was clear that many people among them would not be able to reach Jind or else will reach only after the rally is over. Those people who used their minds, got their vehicles off the highway and took side roads in between farms and reached the rally on time. It must be mentioned that the Jind rally was of lakhs of people, but there were no arrangements in place by the ruling Congress Government of Haryana. The INLD deserves congratulations that without the police and without official arrangements, it was successful in organising a rally of lakhs of people peacefully.
The rally took place outside Jind city near Safaido by-pass. Stretching as far as about 1 km, crowds of people was present. Most of the people who had come to participate in the rally were wearing traditional Haryanvi turbans and white clothes and holding green flags in their hands. Everywhere there were people and more people. Those people who thought that the late Chaudhary Devilal and the Chautala family have been forgotten by the people of Haryana or have been left behind were proved wrong by the numbers at the rally and all their arguments were silenced. The INLD’s Jind rally proved to be a historic rally. Many people believe that in Haryana such a big rally has never been held before. In actual terms, people participated in this rally in lakhs. The number of people who were present under the canopy, much more than that were present outside the canopy. The canopy itself was so big that standing in its middle, it was difficult to tell who all were standing on the stage. This rally was organised by Om Prakash Chautala in honour of the great farmer leader and his father Chaudhary Devilal’s 100th birth anniversary. However, it was completely a political rally. All the candidates of the INLD were present on the stage.
Addressing the sea of crowds, Chautala said that an INLD Government will be formed and he will take the oath of Chief Minister from jail itself. But to call this rally only a rally of Haryana elections would be wrong, because the seeds of a new chapter of Indian politics were sown at this rally. At this rally, a campaign to unite the Janata Parivar was begun. In the Jind rally, former Chief Minister H. D Deve Gowda, Chief Minister of Punjab Prakash Singh Badal, President of the Janata Dal United Sharad Yadav, former Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar and representative of the SP President Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal Yadav, representative of the Samajwadi Janata Party and many well known people were present. All the leaders stressed one thing: that now everybody will have to unite. Nitish said that if members of the Janata Dal will be united, the beginning of new politics will be there. Sharad Yadav said that for making a new India there is a need for old partners to come together.
Former Prime Minister Deve Gowda said that in forming the Janata Dal Chaudhary Devilal had made a huge contribution and today once again there is a need for the old Janata Parivar to be united. The brother of former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal Yadav said that the fight should be fought against the Congress and the BJP together. It means that this rally should not be seen only from the point of view of the Haryana election, but should be seen as a well thought out plan to create an alliance at the national level to deal with the challenges of current politics.
This rally took place in Haryana keeping in mind the upcoming Haryana election and was organised by the INLD. The party was immensely successful in this and the rally created a virtual earthquake in the politics of Haryana. Notably, in this rally, the former Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar emerged as a hero. At the rally, he seemed like a national leader. His speech remained the most powerful and was much appreciated by the people of Haryana. People clapped enthusiastically at his jibes against Narendra Modi. For example, he asked, where did that chest of 56 inches go? The Army of China invades our border and Pakistanis fire bullets on our soldiers. Nitish said that the BJP had won elections by showing false dreams of ‘good days’ and people have been cheated — and the atmosphere echoed with sounds of applause. Meanings emerge these claps.
One is this that people have really started believing that good days was merely an election slogan which is not going to be fulfilled. The second thing is that people want to see Nitish Kumar fight against the BJP. This is the reason that Nitish Kumar made it clear that to stop the BJP, the uniting of the Janata Parivar is important. The speech of Nitish Kumar was entirely political. His language was easy flowing, but his words were precise and sharp. Apart from this his whole speech was centered on Prime Minister Modi. He didn’t leave any effort in his attack. Hearing him, it seemed that if there is any strong leader of the Opposition in the country against the BJP Government, then it is only Nitish Kumar.
Politically the most surprising presence was of Chief Minister of Punjab Prakash Singh Badal. His party is an ally of the BJP. They have been fighting elections together in Punjab since many years. His daughter-in-law too is a significant Minister in the Modi Government. However, the ground reality of Punjab is that relations between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Akali Dal are becoming stressful. During the Lok Sabha elections, the blame for BJP’s Arun Jaitley’s defeat from Amritsar was put on the head of the Akali Dal. Many people from the BJP feel that this alliance is now not going to work for long. Prakash Singh Badal is among the senior political leaders of the country. He is an experienced political leader. He makes every political move with due thought and after assessing the possibilities for the future. Therefore, Prakash Singh Badal’s presence at the Jind rally is a big political indicator. This is also the Akali Dal’s indication to the BJP that it has kept its options open. The second indication is that even the Akali Dal has started feeling that it is not possible to keep the promises with which the BJP has won the Lok Sabha elections. Incidentally, Mulayam Singh Yadav was also scheduled to attend the Jind rally, but it seems he could not come due to ill health.
Why the Janata Parivar uniting makes sense
The morale of the Congress party has been shattered. It is shrinking in all States. In Maharashtra, there was a Congress Government, but after the breaking of its alliance with the NCP, the Congress’s defeat in the coming elections is being considered almost a certainty. In the Lok Sabha, the numbers of the Congress party are only 2-4 seats more than that of regional parties. It has now become difficult to distinguish between the policies of the Congress party and the BJP. The economic policies of both are the same. A.K Antony in his statement gave being pro- Muslim as the reason for the defeat of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections. A.K Antony is a trusted lieutenant of Sonia Gandhi. From the statements of Congress Party leaders, it seems that it has started to turn into a soft- Hindutva party. The issue is, if there is democracy in the country, then the significance of a strong Opposition is also there. The Opposition has to be such, which is different ideologically and policy wise.
For the past 25 years, India has been suffering losses because of being entangled in neo-liberalism and market capitalism. People are suffering. Living life is becoming more difficult and painful. Till such time as these policies are not changed, till then a permanent solution for the sufferings of the people cannot be found. The parties included in the Janata Dal are ideologically similar. Their ideology is dedicated to the development of farmers, labourers, Dalits, backward classes and minorities. They are followers of the socialism of Jaiprakash Narayan and Lohia. It will have to be said that in the past these parties have left their ideology and indulged in power politics only, but in today’s political atmosphere they will have to return to their basic ideology. This is mandatory for them and for the country too. There is no Opposition in front of the present central Government. In the role of Opposition, the Congress has never ‘passed’ till now. Now it doesn’t even have the required numbers. That is why it is the responsibility of Nitish Kumar and Mulayam Singh Yadav that they play the role of a strong Opposition and save India’s democracy.
In today’s political situation, it is important for the Janata Parivar to unite in the form of a strong Opposition. The Congress cannot play the role of Opposition. It doesn’t have the experience and as of now the Congress is suffering from the mentality of a defeated person. For the Janata Parivar to be united it is important that it has ideological commitment, foresight, plans for development for the common man and most important, that there is unity within itself. Obviously, it should have the capability to deal with contradictions that arise naturally from different parties coming together.
Apart from ideology, it is also important that there be just one all round acceptable leader of the Janata Party. All round acceptable leader doesn’t mean that his acceptability is only among leaders, but such a person, who has acceptability among the poor, labourers, backward classes, Dalits and minorities and a person on whom there is no stain of corruption. Such a person, who can combat the corruption of the Congress and the communalism of the BJP. An economic agenda of the Janata Parivar is also important. It will have to devise solutions to end inflation. Beneficial schemes for the youth are also important. Unity on issues of water-forest-land is also important. It will have to present a model of development. How will youth get employment and how will the Government to come utilise their talent, an outline of this will also be have to be presented. How to fight communalism, a blueprint of this also will have to be kept before the people. India of 2014 wants action, wants solution to problems. It wants one such leader, who can be accepted by the youth. The response of people in the Jind rally was proof that Nitish is the front runner in the race for Opposition leader. Nitish Kumar broke his party’s alliance in Bihar because of Narendra Modi, sacrificed his position of Chief Minister. He is the country’s only leader who publicly confronts Modi. His opposition to Modi is ideological, impersonal and respected. If in future the Janata Parivar unites, then the most important role will be that of Nitish Kumar.