By Santosh Bhartiya
The elections in five states are over. There is something for every party to learn from the results of these elections, but who will learn their lesson still to be seen. First, Akhilesh Yadav should realize that whatsoever you do people lay their eyes on that, especially when you project yourself as an agent of change in the society. Akhilesh Yadav was out to change the entire political spectrum of Uttar Pradesh, through filling the assembly with people as young as 22 to 35 years old. He was under the impression that entire Uttar Pradesh is in the palm of his hand. In any case he would have been welcomed had he been associated with struggle with people, and in that case people would have already seen the change he was trying to sell during the run up to the elections. People would have supported Akhilesh Yadav, if they thought the humility he showed was real. The treatment meted out to his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav did not go down well with the people, and left the impression that the expression of humility Akhilesh wore on his face and the promises he made were fake. Another thing that went against him was turning blind eyes from the ground reality and applying only 10 percent the Bihar model became the biggest stumbling block for him. It seems now that for the next five years Mulayam Singh Yadav has to struggle for the party. In fact he built his party over 40 years of struggle. Ironically after 40 years the onus is once again on Mulayam Singh Yadav to rebuild his party.
Mayawati too should draw some lessons from Uttar Pradesh election. She took voter for granted and was under false notion that Dalits will vote according to her command. However, the voting pattern suggests that a section of the Dalits deserted her and joined ranks with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Muslims were also badly divided. However, it is an altogether different matter that Mayawati blames EVM for her defeat. If she really believed so, then she should come out on road to challenge the government. Since neither Mayawati nor Akhilesh Yavad has ever organized any agitation, therefore it would be inappropriate to expect anything like that from them. Rahul Gandhi’s struggle is limited only in and around Parliament House. He has to work hard to break the image attached to him; otherwise people will not take them seriously. Only those party members will take him seriously who are in his party and who have to stay in his party.
The non-Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh were fed with the propaganda that the Muslims are multiplying their population, and if Hindus were not united, Muslims will dominate Indian politics. This propaganda hit the right note with sections which were said to be the constituencies of Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav. Diversion of extremely backwards towards the BJP, the division of Muslims votes and the BJP’s campaign in the villages made the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign successful without much effort. For if the Prime Minister had confidence of getting such a huge majority, then he would not have camped in Varanasi for three days, would not have asked his entire cabinet to camp in Varansai, Amit Shah would not have stayed in Varanasi for a month, and the prime minister would not have said in his later election rallies that there should not be a hung assembly in Uttar Pradesh. Such a large majority was not in their wildest imagination.
Keeping the Congress from going into abyss is the part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strategy. The Congress’s leadership is so dilapidated, so meek, so directionless and so issueless that it has become a child’s play for Narendra Modi to run it down as a major opponent. Narendra Modi is applying the same strategy that Indiraji applied. She dealt with her opposition by projected them as opponents and then defeat them decisively in the election and remain in power for a longer period of time.
Be that as it may, the opposition reaction to current realities is anybody’s guess, because whenever there is talk of opposition unity, the first question that bobs up is: Who will be the Prime Minister? Only after reaching unanimity on this, talks of unity go any further. They start giving impression that Mamata Banerjee is the Prime Minister, Akhilesh Yadav is the Prime Minister, Mayawati is the Prime Minister, Laloo Yadav is the Prime Minister and Nitish Kumar is the Prime Minister. Not to speak of them the penchant for the top post find expression even in relatively detached Naveen Patnaik and Chandra Babu Naidu. The unbending assertion of every party is first declare our leader as prime ministerial candidate, then we will talk about opposition unity. So many prime ministers and so many parties create a new situation, in that situation the BJP or the Prime Minister Narendra Modi are way bigger in stature compare to them all. He is a 24X7-politician. Whether he is in the country or abroad, he knows how to manipulate his weakness and transform into his strength.
Opposition leaders lack courage to mobilize people on the failings of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while Modi makes maximum out of the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the opposition, and corners them in his public speeches. In fact the opposition all in trap by responding to the agenda set by him, whereas if the opposition has to take on the Prime Minister, then they will have to bring him on their pitch. This reminds me of Dr. Ram Mannohar Lohia and Vishwanath Pratap Singh, who themselves set the agenda and the government respond on those agenda. It happened during the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Narasimha Rao and before them even during the time Rajiv Gandhi as well. If one recalls the period after 1987, the whole politics circles around the issues set by V.P. Singh; there was hardly any scope of deviating from those issues. It is unfortunate that today there is no leader in ranks of opposition parties who can force the government to respond to the issues set by him.
There will be some sort of dialogue amongst the Opposition parties in beginning of April, but there is no such person who can bring or flock all the people together, and prepare them all to accept the fact that the Prime Minister’s post should not become obstacles in the path of unity. Nonetheless, all will say that they are unconcerned about the prime minister’s post, but they all possess strong craving for the post. If all the opposition parties join together to form a federal party in every state, and if they field one candidate from each Lok Sabha seat, then only they will be able to give a fight to Narendra Modi.
During hey days of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, all opposition parties were open to opposition unity. BJP (then Jan Sangh) was also part of their scheme of things – during Dr Lohia’s and even after 1978 in its new avatar as Bharatiya Janata Party. Now the BJP is replacing Congress and working on a formula of systematically eliminating the opposition, and it is gradually succeeding in its intent. At such a crossroad if the challenge of being united is not acceptable to all political parties against the BJP, then it should be assumed that nothing can prevent the BJP; one by one every party will get decimated.
We believe that strong opposition is necessary for a healthy democracy. In the absence of a strong and sensible Opposition, the governments become unbridled in their approach. There is no dearth of example of such instances in the history. People are so fed up with the opposition that they are reluctant to stand with them. They do not believe that the opposition will resolve their problems. This is probably the reason that people gave such an unprecedented majority to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. It is incumbent upon the non-BJP parties to come together, not to dislodge Prime Minister Modi, but to make a strong Opposition. Will they team up to perform their historical responsibility? I see it with skeptical detachment?
By Santosh Bhartiya