India as a democracy needs an “opposition”, is the persistent cry these days after the 2019 elections.
It is as if this is the first time in the history of democratic India that one party has been so dominant while others have no existence. This was the norm during the Congress era. And, from all accounts, Nehru was a dictator. He was known to persecute the Jan Sangh and RSS folks. It was a clever way to eliminate any threat to his political future. And in those elections – from 1951 through 1971 – the #1 party (INC) to #2 party seats percentage was always more than what was in 2014 and 2019. Ditto for #1 party seats / Total Seats ratio. Check the table below.
What shocks one most (at the juvenile nature of it) is that on every panel, BJP representatives are being asked “Don’t you think, in the interest of India – maybe not BJP – that our democracy needs an opposition?” As if they should feel sorry for it! And, the BJP representatives give a useless reply to this utterly imbecile question. Which is fair and fitting but leaves everyone without being any more wiser.
It is like asking Muhammad Ali on why he doesn’t have an opposition at all in the ring? Had the commentators in his time and field been as retarded as the Indian news journalists, he would have retorted – “Because I beat the shit out of them all. THAT’S WHY you MORON!!!” It is not BJP’s duty to create an opposition for itself. It is those opposing BJP who need to learn to take their lives in their own hands and live.
Ever since all opposition was finished. The cry of liberal journalist in India – “Doesn’t India need an opposition?” has become a continuous rant.
The question, instead, should be WHAT KIND of opposition? What kind of opposition does India need and want. We need to appreciate that India’s politics has been clearly and cleanly divided by the citizenry on two sides of a divide. The “Dial-tone” Divide.
Ask, what KIND of opposition?!
So let us – normal laymen and women – ask ourselves the question “Does India need an opposition?”. Along with the corollary, which is deliberately or mischievously missed, “If yes, then what kind of opposition?”
Before we go to that question, however, we need to appreciate that voting in a democracy is not some kind of charity going on, that everyone will be given some of votes, lest they go hungry and die out of losing in an election. Giving everyone a chance in not an obligation on the voters. Getting a vote is a privilege that is predicated on the good you can do and how well you can communicate your work.
Voters vote as per how they feel their interests, futures of their kids, and indeed society’s interests are being taken care of by different candidates. Whoever aligns with their idea of future the best, gets their vote. Specifically, in an election where the frauds are minimum, because we now have EVMs in India. Which contrary to many conspiracy theories, are not hackable and have enough failsafe measures.
So, when someone wins an election, it is because people’s visions and aspirations have aligned with the vision and actions of the winner. And people believe that s/he can best steer the country ahead.
It is, in many ways, a victory of ideas. Even ideologies. Sometimes even of personalities.
In any case, it is not as if the votes were tossed up in the air by the voter and 5 people fought against each other to grab as many as they want. That is not what democracy is all about.
So, when someone wins in a complex and multi-faceted democracy as India, it is because a certain set of ideas have been chosen to best represent the common man. It is a victory of ideas and what someone really stands for, above everything else.
When one party with a very distinct set of ideas wins, while others (with exactly the opposite set of ideas) lose so terribly, it is because the ideas and mojo of the former best represents the nation and the society.
What were the ideas that won in 2014 and 2019?
Fight against Corruption and Plunder: What happened in the 10 years of UPA I and II was not corruption. It was out and out plunder! At some count, INR 12 lakh crores worth of scandals had occurred. Many small scandals not counting. That is the kind of money that the citizens lost to the unscrupulous UPA politicians. 2014 vote was decisively for eradicating the cockroaches of plunder and loot – which, incidentally, were most UPA politicians. And that is why in 2019, corruption was not even a discussion point. Rahul Gandhi tried to cook up an unpalatable soup with Rafale, but it was well countered by not just Modi government but even the foreign governments and everything fell flat.
National Security: 2019 was a vote on the actual delivery and the work done, apart from the security interests that Modi government was able to safeguard. The whole BJP’s ground campaign was built on the back of the beneficiaries who had seen some change in their lives. This backed by the local pride in how the whole Pakistani-sponsored terrorism was tackled post Uri and Pulwama, became the subject of many folk songs. In contrast, the Congress positions were consistently anti-India and clearly aligned with those of Pakistan and ISI. This much was very clear to any observer.
While opposing Modi, the opposition had moved into that area where they had become anti-India itself. That showed their real character. This had always been there, but it was now out in the open. And it was this that the voter utterly and strongly rejected!
Accomplishments on the ground: The increased expanse of highways, the LPG cylinders for the poor, electricity provided to everyone, the toilets in village homes, the direct transfers and the amazing impact of JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) in rural lives and how now there was no leakage in the benefits that the government gave to the beneficiaries – brought the beneficiaries great empowerment. All these things came together to create an impact that was unprecedented.
This was the first time since independence that a government had provided what was due to India’s citizens NOT as a charity or debt but as a natural right. Benefits from a program for poor was a poor’s right, but the money was not available to him until he paid off middlemen who gave his dues as if it was some kind of charity they were doing to him. No more of that mess now. The poor man had an account, thanks to Jan Dhan. And the money entered his account directly!
These were the issues and ideas on which BJP won.
The “Dial-tone” Divide
If one looks clearly at the main differences and debating issues during the elections which have been summarized above, one will find that they aren’t much of differences in ideologies as they are basic Dial-tone requirements of a citizen. They needed a dial-tone on their instrument. The bells and whistles could wait. They were NOT debating between Apple and Samsung, they were asking for an instrument, ANY instrument with a dial-tone!
Even that was not provided in almost 70 years!
That is what Modi provided and promised to deliver over the next 5 years.
The nuances of ideologies came forth in how the differences in work manifested from those mindsets. For example, how while BJP worked hard to ensure that the beneficiary gets the benefit of the last paisa that was due to him/her, Congress had over the 70 years been content to simply lament that it wasn’t possible but at the same time inspiring a social structure and a bureaucracy that enabled that loot.
So then, what kind of opposition?
So, if one looks clearly one will find that the question is not about whether people want BJP versus Congress but that they want basic Dial-tone versus Fluffy stuff.
Garibi bachao has been a slogan since 1960s. Almost 60 years hence the same family is still promising the country that. Nothing new. Same turd in a new packaging. And whenever they start a scheme to do just that, it is actually a scheme to more masterfully siphon off the taxpayers money to the politician’s account.
Look at MNREGA for example. Without Jan Dhan, it was a great tool for paying off political functionaries right down the line from the top minister onwards. Without any accountability or traceability. With direct transfer and Jan Dhan, suddenly all that loot became impossible. And that exact same program became a powerful tool for poverty eradication.
The only difference was that earlier there was no dial-tone. And later, a dial tone was provided. The rest happened on its own.
So, Congress and the rest of the “Anti-BJP” parties are not really “opposing BJP” in terms of ideas. They have been on the opposite side of the citizenry. They have not provided even the basic dial tone.
BJP vs Rest is not a debate of ideas as much as it is a debate of Rights of Citizens vs absence of them. And, that is what was rejected.
So, to look for an opposition in the grave-yard where mockery of citizens proliferates is a big folly. For, you cannot oppose the citizens and become a viable opposition to BJP. It just won’t happen.
India does not need that kind of opposition. India does not deserve that. In fact, India never deserved that kind of government too. But the whole structure and eco-system had been compromised since Nehru to manifest just that.
So, does India need an opposition? Heck yes. But it needs an opposition that is on the same level of action and sense of duty to the citizenry as BJP is, while having debate over the ideology.
One can have a difference in terms of whether we should have used the air-force or Navy to attack Pakistan post Pulwama. But we cannot have public opposition to the claim of the government in power and the Armed Forces on what was done. We can have debates on strategy but not on the official word of those who lead us. They have multiple battles on hand when India is in constant state of war with Pakistan (ask any jawan on the border, it is a constant and uninterrupted battle). One of the battles is of perception and narrative. And those who are the helm have to say and announce things in nuances that can accomplish that. We cannot take that as a debating point at all.
We can discuss whether Jan Dhan should have accomplished 300 million beneficiaries or 500 million. But we cannot debate that these accounts opening exercise was futile and useless, just because for some months there were no balances in them.
In short, you cannot debate Dial-tone. You can debate and have differences over bells and whistles. But not dial-tone!
India, therefore, needs an opposition that is on the same page as the current government and the citizens in terms of Dial-tone.
We can no longer have an opposition that is on the other side of the Dial-tone divide.