Opposition unity is more like a political flash mob where they come together for special performances like No-confidence Motion and again disperse.
The Opposition led by Congress is going through testing times. Before the big battle of 2019, it is mandatory for the opposition to pass several tests of unity. However, the opposition which boasts of building an opposition front ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections has already fallen flat on the face twice. First, in Sangli-Jalgaon Municipal Elections and Second, in Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker election. The two consistent defeats have dented the United opposition idea if not weakened, which seemed somehow conceivable after the stellar performance of opposition during No-Confidence motion.
Though Sonia Gandhi’s statement, “who says opposition doesn’t have numbers” was proved wrong when it came to the actual result, one cannot disagree that the opposition seemed focused and on track after long during the No-confidence motion debate. Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s hug to Modi which took him aback for a moment made the top headlines next day instead of NDA winning the motion. All of this indeed projected that the opposition is flexing muscle against the government in all seriousness.
However, yesterday’s defeat of opposition in Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker election proves that the for opponent parties, opposition unity is more like a political flash mob where they come together for special performances like No-confidence Motion and again disperse, unlike BJP which choreographs its strategy with an only aim of winning the election.
The election for the Rajya Sabha Deputy speaker, just like No-Confidence motion was more about getting a clear picture of who’s on whose side rather than the numbers. Though the Congress, rather United Opposition candidate wouldn’t have been able to stack up to the required majority numbers, at least it would be perceived as opposition putting up the fight, plus they could have lowered the margin.
The opposition unity seems more like a far-fetched idea with the absence of pragmatism in the leader of the Opposition-Congress. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s lackadaisical approach towards BJP, TRS and AAP wrapped the tally of opposition at 109. The crucial 9 votes of BJD and 6 votes of TRS fell in NDA’s favour. While 3 votes of AAP and 2 votes of YSR Congress slipped out of opposition’s hand because the parties either abstained or remained absent. The AAP even alleged that the Congress did not even seek support from the party. On the other hand, there was also no communication with YSR Congress. Congress was also too late in seeking BJD’s support which already committed its vote to NDA. Besides, selecting Congress’ own candidate after arbitrary withdrawal of NCP’s candidate just proves that the opposition isn’t keeping its options ready.
Rahul Gandhi always projects Congress as the glue that will bind the opposition together. However, pushing for its own candidate, Congress has once again lost the chance to prove that it is ready to take a backseat and gives priority to defeating BJP.
While Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker election saw opposition unity tumbling in parliament, the similar ground situation was witnessed in Maharashtra with BJP sweeping the municipal corporation elections in Congress-NCP dominated Sangli and Jalgaon. At a time when Maratha Reservation Agitation is at its peak, the speculations were it would root out BJP. However, The BJP in Jalgaon civic body polls, bounced by winning 57 of the 75 seats, and came up trumps in the Sangli municipal elections, bagging 41 out of the 78 seats.
The while Congress couldn’t even open its account in Jalgaon for second consecutive time, NCP lost 11 seats and drew a blank. In Sangli, which is considered the bastion of NCP-Congress, the former could win only 20 seats while Congress was wrapped up at 15 seats. Even in this case the lack of pragmatic approach by state units of NCP and Congress remains major reason behind a humiliating defeat.
However, both the defeat come with their own setbacks and lessons. The lesson is, without all the opposition parties coming together and proving that they are the viable alternative to BJP, the Modi juggernaut will continue its victory rally.