Today, October 21, 2019, electorate of two Indian states Maharashtra and Haryana will witness an electoral battle, where there is no trace of opposition parties. Despite their best efforts, even old timers are finding it hard to remember whether they have seen such a one-sided election ever before.
What went wrong for the opposition parties? Electoral battles are part and parcel of a democracy, it is not that a particular political party wins every election. Like every sphere of life, wins and losses are inevitable too in this sphere. So just a bad defeat in the last general elections has sent the opposition parties in disarray is too simplistic an explanation. The disease is much more deep-rooted. Besides, it is just a lame excuse that opposition parties are unable to counter the nationalist agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The main difference between the ruling and the opposition parties is that while the ruling coalition is moving forward steadily with a definite vision and programme, the opposition parties have none. The parties have simply failed to draw a comprehensive strategy to counter the ruling party.
Take this for example; In Maharashtra, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance was not as stable as it was some years ago. There were even talks that two parties would not fight elections together. But just before the elections were announced, both parties came to the discussion table at the behest of BJP and sorted out all differences between the two. The differences were sorted out in such a manner that even Shiv Sena agreed to the seat sharing formula wherein the regional outfit got less number of seats than BJP for the first time.
On the contrary, consider Haryana political scenario; Congress could not stich an electoral understanding with any of the factions of erstwhile Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), founded by Chowdhury Devi Lal, former Deputy Prime Minister of India. The grand old party of Indian politics even tried to rope in Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). But that effort did not bring any positive results as none of the parties were willing to leave more seats for the sake of a formidable alliance. Moreover, Congress failed to keep its house together. Its president resigned from the party, when the Congress high command decided to bring back veteran leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda to lead. Now the situation is such that even many Congress leaders are waiting behind the wings to write the political epitaph of Mr. Hooda. If the principal opposition parties are engulfed with such fierce infighting, it has no right to blame Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) or any other factors for failing to put up a formidable resistance against BJP.
I’m the absence of an opposition, many believe that the country’s democratic fabric is in danger. But the writing is clear on the wall. It is not the duty of the electorate to enthuse new life to the opposition by casting sympathy votes. It is the duty of the political parties to reach the people with a clear vision, policy and programme. In a democracy, no political party can win if it is devoid of principle. Indian electorate have long ago decided not to cast votes on face value. Rather it is interested in providing opportunities to the performers. In this context, BJP and its friends are way ahead than the opposition parties. This is BJP’s success mantra.