With BJP’s growing dominance, can opposition bounce back in 2019 elections

Political scenario of a vast and vibrant democracy like India keeps on changing with each passing day. This is very much visible in the current political developments taking place in the country.

The 14th and the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in June 2014, bringing in a new ray of hope and the promise of taking India to a different level in all fields. From selling tea on the roadside to becoming Prime Minister, Modi has proven his ambitions and that achieving what you desire is not impossible. Though this ambitious ideology of the leader may be challenging for the future of the nation.

Modi, during his election campaign in 2014 came up with slogans like “Give me a strong government, I’ll give you a strong India”. He believed that for any political party, its manifesto should be like the Gita, the Quran and the Bible and he strongly claimed to follow his manifestation. Putting faith in the leader he was elected the Prime Minister of India with an overwhelming majority of 283 seats of the 543, marking it to be the first major majority won by BJP. NDA came to power in 2014 dethroning UPA. However, after 3 years of BJP ruling at the centre, it seems like it has pledged to remain at power washing out all other parties which do not support it.

It is said that the head of the family represents it and it totally depends on the head to run his family and maintain its prestige. Similarly, Modi is seen as the man representing India and India’s image on the international level completely depends on him. After the win in 2014, Modi had said that with BJP coming to power again, the good days of India will return and it will again get back its honour of being the golden bird- ‘sone ki chidiya’.

But looking at the prevailing political conditions, it seems like Modi led-BJP is trying to paint India saffron. The party is trying to establish a one party rule in India by either washing out the opposition parties or bringing them on their side. Though BJP has been trying to take over India politically by hook or by crook, it is still enjoying the support and love of the people. Adsense of sound opposition and the love from voters has increased BJP’s chances of getting back into power in 2019.

However, as there are two sides to a coin, Modi government has also had its two sides. If on one hand, it has tried to establish a scam free government compared to its counterpart, it has even implemented many schemes for the welfare and development of the people and has also strengthened its relations internationally. On the other hand, people are also calling his government a ‘Suit-Boot ki Sarkar’. Where the down trodden and the poor are facing the results of his development schemes and the rich are benefiting from the scheme. The ideology of promoting Hindutva in the nation is also somewhere hitting the people emotionally, as India is a secular country and not just a Hindu country.

Modi had promised to bring back all the black money. He always said in his campaigns that “we need actions, not Acts”, but today the citizens who had put faith in him want to know about the actions he has taken regarding his black money promise. He implemented demonetisation unannounced, suddenly at midnight of 8 Nov 2016, the value of INR 500 and INR 1000 notes was reduced to zero. His decision created a cyclone of commotion in the entire nation affecting the lower and the middle class badly. It almost took 3-4 months for the situation to get back to normal and starting the smooth flow of the new currency of Rs 2000.

Demonetisation had both its positive and negative impacts. While it helped in curbing the rotation of black money to a certain limit, counterfeiting of the higher denomination currency was stopped, the number of people paying their taxes increased as more online transactions were seen and government keeping a track of traction became more prominent. But it also created a lot of trouble for the poor and the uneducated people. Modi said make India cashless, but did he not realize that majority of the population live in villages and maintaining a cashless economy will quite be very difficult for them.

He recently implemented GST at the midnight on 30 June making a historical change in the country’s economy by removing all other taxes and just implementing a single tax. This move by Modi government received both appreciation and criticism. While on one hand, it will help to build a transparent and corruption free tax administration. It will help the traders for doing business across the borders both nationally and internationally. But it has also almost destroyed the textile industry and has also proved to be a burden rather than being a boon for the real estate.

Modi government had promised to eradicate terrorism from the roots of India and also assured to reach to some decision on the Kashmir issue. Regarding these promises though little was done nothing great was achieved. Modi executed the operation all out a plan to flush out all the terrorists from the valley and 119 terrorists were killed also, but the dream of Indian being a terrorist free country is still far from being accomplished.

Modi promised a corruption free India, but the current situation seems otherwise. The party claims to be strictly against corruptions and boasts about taking actions against corrupt people, but it itself is using the point in the favour of the party. Neglecting the corrupt members and friends of BJP it is only targeting the opposition. The best example of this could recently be seen when a tactful move was played to wash out RJD from Bihar. A series of CBI raids were conducted at the premises of RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members. This gradually resulted in the ruling party JD(U) breaking the grand alliance with RJD and Congress.

This recent development has completely shaken the core of politics in India. The opposition was holding on to a single ray of hope, projecting Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to be the face against Narendra Modi in 2019 polls. But Nitish joining hands with BJP has left the opposition dumbfounded. It is in a state of dilemma as to what is happening and what should be the party’s next move to ensure its presence in the politics of India. The speed at which BJP is painting India saffron, the day will not be very far when Indian will be a single party nation.

After recently forming the government in Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Bihar now out of the 30, BJP rules in 18 states either solely or with the alliance. After wiping away opposition from Bihar its next target is the 2nd largest party after Congress, AIADMK. BJP is in talks with AIADMK to form an alliance with the party and if the alliance between the two is formed the opposition’s hold in politics will further weaken. Modi government is trying to establish the party in every possible state by any means leaving no loop holes behind.

The dominance of the party is increasing four folds day by day, if anyone dares to go against the party or speak otherwise, is either completely wiped out or has to face many difficulties, this has become the image as of now. The bureaucrats are scared of working in the government with the fear of getting thrown out if something goes wrong or against the government. Not only this but the party is also controlling the media as everything revealed in print and electronic media, is first allegedly scanned by the party president. Lalu Prasad Yadav had said that Amit Shah has become the super-editor. If this continues the situation of declaring an indefinite emergency is not very far.

At present Modi is being seen as the face of BJP and this is benefiting all the BJP members across the nation. Even if the BJP leaders are not connected at the grassroots level and are not aware of the problems at the base level, they get elected just because they belong to a party whose head is Narendra Modi.

The major question that arises is will Congress be able to defeat dominant BJP and return to rule at the centre in 2019? From ruling the Centre and a majority of states, big and small, it has now been pushed into a corner with its governments in only a few states. It is high time that the party undergoes a surgery now.

If the opposition really has any aspiration of returning to the centre it needs to start working from today itself. If the party plans strategically and systematically and launch its campaign with full force it still has the chance of coming back. The very first thing that the party needs to do is put an acceptable and presentable face in front of the people as the Head of the party. Though Sonia Gandhi being the President and Rahul Gandhi being the vice-president, neither of them portray the Prime Ministerial face India wishes to see in 2019.

Congress was seeing Nitish as its representative in 2019 but it will not be the same now after Nitish joining NDA. Some other deserving rulers who could possibly be the face of Congress in the next General elections are Naveen Patnaik, Arvind Kejriwal, Mulayam Singh or Mamta Banerjee, but the track records of these leaders are not very appealing and also it will be difficult for Mamta to connect to the people across the nation, facing language issues. The other choice can be that the party introduces a new face relatively a leader who has accomplishments in other related field or business like Ajit Doval, E.Sreedharan the metro man, or Nandan Nilekani or Murthy. Some other candidates can be Jyotiraditya Scindia, Shashi Tharoor or Digvijay Singh.

Other than fielding a leader who is capable enough, not just to lead the party but also get back the position at the Centre, Congress also has to unite all the opposition parties under one roof against BJP. If this is accomplished only than the chances of a UPA government in 2019 is possible. Congress has done this recently during the Presidential elections. The party was successful in uniting 17 opposition parties as one and unanimously nominated a consensus opposition candidate. Two more parties joined during the nomination for the Vice-Presidential candidate. If the party can get together 19 parties for vice presidential polls, it sure has the potential to unite all the opposition against one in 2019 polls.

Congress needs to start planning its campaign strategies at the earliest. If ever, all the non-NDA, non-Sangh Parivar parties decide to form an alliance, based on the anti-incumbency factor then Congress can comfortably lead a coalition government in the centre. Planning tactfully if Congress is able to get the support of SP and BSP from Uttar Pradesh, RJD from Bihar, TMC from West Bengal, DMK from Tamil Nadu, JDS from Karnataka, NC from Kashmir, NCP from Maharashtra, AAP from Delhi and YSR Congress from Telangana, it still can hope for a victory in 2019. Another step, which the opposition needs to take right now, includes declaring a face and start projecting the same for the elections due after 2 years. In the 2014 general elections, the media campaigns of Narendra Modi had proven to be a catalyst in establishing himself as a face, which was known across villages of the country.

Modi in 2014 had said that India is running in reverse gear, but since 2014 India has seen a change in the gear a lot many times and now is the time for its servicing again. Modi may be the face of BJP and India as for now but 19 months down the line, with struggling economy, a mini revolt by intelligentsia, widespread rural distress, perception of breakdown in social harmony, and a combative opposition breathing down government’s throat and stalling its agenda combines to make it appears that, after all, 2019 polls could possibly see a change in the government if the opposition starts accepting its mistakes from the previous terms and learn from them.

The words of senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani will soon be true that India is moving towards the situation when an emergency will be declared if the opposition does not become alerted now for 2019 polls and stop the growing dominance of BJP.