Opposition Parties Update: Where are they?
India’s Opposition parties have literally disappeared.
You can accuse me of being uncharitable to them and perhaps I am being unfair. But if the intensity and quality of the Opposition response to the economic slowdown is an indicator, you could easily say that India has literally no opposition parties.
The Congress Party’s president Mrs Sonia Gandhi has said nothing about the slowdown in the growth. While the party has organised press conferences and has been somewhat aggressive on social media, to say that the Government is on the defensive because of the Congress would be stretching things too far. The BJP is driven by electoral risks and it sees the slowdown as a risk in the three incoming elections. Now, not only has the overall Congress response been limited, most of its leadership is caught battling each other – Hooda and the Haryana unit, Tharoor and the Kerala unit, Scindia and Kamal Nath and the list goes on. The Congress party has so fully transformed itself into a party of power brokers that many of their party leaders cannot resist behaving like a party in power. The calculation amongst some of its leaders is that should their internal battles end in defeat, the BJP is still there to join. To expect much of these set of leaders is perhaps a flaw in ourselves.
The Eastern Superstars have gone completely silent. Naveen babu having resisted the BJP invasion is now resting on his laurels. Not that he has said much earlier either. He has found methods by which he is able to perpetuate his hold and any bump in ore prices makes his hold on Odisha even stronger. So while Naveen cannot be beaten he has nothing much to contribute in so far as the Opposition is concerned. Mamata who had an opinion on everything and everyday has been asked to remain silent by Prashant Kishor. There is wisdom in that idea, not because it loses votes but simply because her frequent commentary makes even the most educated Bengali to imagine fantastic conspiracies. Nonetheless, the Mamata resistance to the BJP has dimmed somewhat. In Bihar, it looks like Nitish Kumar will soon join the ranks of the Opposition (which might be a good thing) while Tejashwi Yadav is busy figuring out his own career.
The Southern Superstars are in a mess as well. Jagan is busy targeting the TDP. The Karnataka allies are still figuring strategy while Stalin seems to have aggressively attacked Narendra Modi but I am unsure if he has chosen the right topics. KCR is busy fighting internal resistance for the first time no doubt fuelled by BJP’s increased aggression in the state. The Kerala Congress unit is jockeying for power within the party with the hopes of winning the 2021 election just 18 months away.
The Opposition parties in the North are thoroughly confused. Arvind Kejriwal is focussed on bribing Delhi voters and no doubt that his advisors have told him to completely avoid Narendra Modi and his policies. In UP, Mayawati whom we could once trust blindly to get the results has repeatedly failed and therefore her latest tactic is keep the BJP on its side. That the core idea is flawed is a given irrespective of her pre 2013 performances. Akhilesh comes on and off but to say the SP is mobilising against the Government whether local or national would be stretching things too far. In Rajasthan and Punjab, the Congress appears to be focussed on Governance but it is unclear they are a role model for ideal governance in the country.
The Opposition parties in the West – Which ones?
So the responsibility of the Opposition as fallen to a vast set of Individuals whether they are Journalists, Government supporters, those who are more independent minded, experts and such types. The economy and the market of course are most likely to respond negatively if the Government does not do its job efficiently. However, to expect the opposition political leaders to mount any sort of reasonable and strong opposition is to expect too much. This is going to be a very long wait.