Leadership without cohesion, Opp’s unity will be futile in the center

IIn post-independence India, veterans like JB Kripalini, Ashok Mehta, Piloo Mody, MA Ayangar, AB Vajpayee, RM Lohia, SM Joshi, Madhu Dandavate, Biju Patnaik, SN Dwibedi, Bhupesh Gupta, Jyotirmaya Basu, AK Gopalan and others who carried the legacy of freedom of movement, filled the seats of the opposition benches, debated bills intensively and raised issues of national importance that enriched parliamentary debates and influenced citizens. The ruling and opposition parties were led by political stalwarts that enriched a culture of debate in parliament that gave bills more sanctity.

During Pandit Nehru’s time as Prime Minister, private members of parliaments were encouraged to sponsor bills. With the death of many of these faithful, the political parties have weakened. Recently in an article, Varun Gandhi MP said that during the monsoon session of the
Parliament in 2021, the Lok Sabha passed 18 bills most of which were debated for 34 minutes each. According to him, a crucial bill relating to the amendment of the bankruptcy law was hardly discussed for about 5 minutes. Opposition parties are now fragmented for which their voice is also weak.

Indira Gandhi during her tenure cleverly used the fragmented opposition as an asset to her; now the NDA is also in an advantageous position due to a fragmented opposition. In 1977, in the post-emergency general election, the fragmented opposition united under the banner of the Janata Party under the inspirational effort of Jayprakash Narayan, which did not last long due to a clash of egos. between some leaders. Thus, it disintegrated and fragmented into half a dozen splinter groups.

In modern India, criticism of the government or any party is most often portrayed as anti-national. According to a report by an English daily, the High Court in Allahabad, while releasing some students on bail for shouting certain slogans during a cricket match, observed: “India’s unity is not not made of bamboo reeds that will bend to the winds empty slogans”.

According to media reports, SC NV Chief Justice Ramana, speaking at P Kohili’s memorial lecture, observed that “there is an immediate need for the establishment of an independent apex institution, to bring various agencies like CBI, SFIO, ED, etc under one roof” to sever all ties with the political executive. The relationship between the states of the Union and those of the opposition is getting worse day by day. According to a media report, the Telengana firm has offered to grant Delhi a Dharana day to protest against the alleged discriminatory paddy sourcing policy of the Union government. In West Bengal, the Speaker of the Assembly had referred to Rajbhavan’s “excessive interference” in the work of the Assembly. Addressing the CPI(M) party meeting in Kannur, Tamil Nadu CM questioned the misuse of the governor’s office saying, “When there is an elected cabinet in every state, is- it not unconstitutional to seek to govern the state through the Governor’s office? Is it constitutional to seek to run a parallel government through the governor’s office in states run by non-BJP parties? He quoted Mahatma Gandhi to further say “Self-government without self-government is like replacing the white tiger with an Indian tiger”. Stalin added that with the GST, the Center snatched tax revenue from the state.

It may be mentioned that the late Biju Patnaik always insisted on more financial power to the States. He had prophetically forged the requirement of financial autonomy of the States in 1990 to overcome the backwardness of a State. CM Naveen Patnaik reiterated the same voice asking for special financial autonomy to the states in 2018 on the party’s founding day. A strong and viable opposition at the national level could play a checks and balances role and protect a federal spirit. The late great leader Biju Patnaik used to express his distaste for the fragmentation of political parties who openly said that the mistaken dreams, arrogance and ego of a few leaders at the national level prevented party unity from opposition. At his instance, a meeting of various fractions of Janata Dal was held in New Delhi in the last week of July 1995 where he virtually warned the faction leaders “to unite or face catastrophe, as the people would no longer tolerate such splits”. Today there is no leader of the stature of Biju Patnaik, RK Hegde, Devilal to federate the opposition at the national level.

Some media have recently said that veteran leaders like Sharad Pawar and Nitin Gadkari have rightly spoken of the need for a strong opposition to “help democracy”. Undoubtedly, such qualities of daring cunning are necessary on the part of the rulers for the welfare of the country’s democracy. Added now to the fragmentation of parties, the defection of legislators, the use of black money in elections has completely degraded the political culture hindering participatory democracy ‘By the people’ a reality. In November 1967, participating in the parliamentary debate, veteran parliamentarian S. M. Joshi had warned against overstepping and called for following a convention prohibiting lawmakers from defecting from a party. Now the floor crossing is engineered by the ruling parties and defectors are entertained in 5 star hotels and lured the ministry to smash governments eroding the essence of electoral politics and betraying the mandate of the people as well than the negation of all the noble values ​​dear to the struggle for freedom.

Election results from 5 states showed that the electorate delivered a decisive mandate and rejected the fragmented opposition. In this context, efforts to unite these parties at the national level can bring a kind of unity but would not be sustainable as in the past without a collective mechanism, management, coherent leadership united under a minimum program common covering general issues such as judicial reform, independence of the EC, women’s reserve, prevention of the evil of defection, strengthening of the federal structure, revision of laws encroaching on the federal spirit, limitation of the role of the governor , recognition of the right to irrigation and the right to employment as basic rights, shelter for the homeless, removal of colonial laws such as sedition, activation of Lokpal institution, power of taxation to states, creation of opportunities on the idea of ​​national reconstruction, etc. New narratives should also be adopted to appeal to farmers, workers and young people. In the beginning, there should be some unanimity on common issues affecting citizens. Regional parties would be in an effective position to occupy the driver’s seat of national politics in the current context to influence national discourse if their unity is institutionalized and its leadership is periodically changed between regional icons.

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