CAA and Opposition: Squandering Opportunities
At a time when it appears that the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) may act as a glue to bond opposition parties together, they have done the opposite. Even before the much-touted meeting of the opposition parties called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, one of the most prominent faces of the anti-CAA protests and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee decided not to attend the meeting. The official version says that hooliganism indulged by Congress and CPM members during the nationwide strike call on January 8 was the reason behind the decision. But the truth is something else entirely. The meeting lost its importance even before commencement simply because instead of putting up a united face, opposition leaders were more interested in becoming the challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In reality, Mamata is at odds with other opposition parties as the West Bengal Chief Minister believes she was the one who originated the protest against the Act. Thus, by her calculations, she is ahead of other opposition leaders in the race of challenging Mr. Modi. Remember, the grand old party, Congress, is still in a dilemma concerning the stand they want to take in regard to the law. Other parties have had limited success in mobilising the people against this new law. Primarily, the movement against CAA has been spearheaded by Mamata and various student bodies in their own capacity. Therefore, Mamata has started demanding her pound of flesh even before it is due.
Consider those people who are protesting against the law. Without waiting for any support from political parties, they came out in large numbers on the roads. The protest is now solely theirs. Definitely, the protest will lose some of its intensity if opposition parties continue to count their eggs before they hatch. When the need of the hour is to show solidarity with the protestors, these parties are only concerned about personal gain. As a matter of fact, instead of strengthening the movement, opposition parties are weakening the agitation, which is unbecoming of opposition members.
Here lies the answer as to why Narendra Modi is still India’s best bet. Even if the opposition parties manage to get power, it is clear that they will waste the opportunity. It’s shocking to see the opposition camp virtually devoid of any political acumen. Since 2014, the opposition got many chances to corner the government. But so far, it has failed to properly utilise these chances. In a democracy, a political battle is either won or lost on public support. The opposition camp has not being able to set up a narrative that the public can support wholeheartedly. The parties are simply banking on seat-sharing. It’s not that easy. The opposition parties will not be able to garner enough political support until the coalition is rock solid. At the same time, it should be ready with a roadmap on how to make India prosperous. Thus, if there is no definite policy, programme, and unity, the resurgence of the opposition parties in this country will remain a mirage.