When the Opposition Party Always Opposes
In a parliamentary democracy, the political party (coalition of parties) with the greatest representation in the parliament forms the government but that doesn’t mean the parties in the minority have nothing to do. The opposition plays a very important role in a democratic set up; an element that a democracy can’t function without. It acts as pressure group that keeps a check on the activities of the ruling party; ensures that power is not abused; keeps a close watch on the bills and expenditures of the government; points out the flaws and failures; makes sure that the policies are not against the people. In short, the opposition should question, criticise and hold the ruling party accountable to the public. It also should appreciate its opponents when it deserves and work together for the good of the people.
But what we see in most developing countries today is the role of the opposition being narrowed down to only “oppose, oppose, and oppose” with no room for positive criticism. This is the scenario in Nagaland too. The opposition party lives up to its name (opposition) by opposing whatever the ruling party does and the latter too has nothing positive to say about its opponents. These two elements of the democracy cannot agree on anything or work together for the common good even during natural calamities. The lawmakers seem to enjoy playing “blame game” and political bickering instead of trying to solve issues at hand during crisis. Political parties are so polarised that it appears like one sees the other as fundamentally evil and a sin to agree on anything. This polarisation between the political parties in Nagaland state is so severe that those in the opposition are not willing to sit with the ruling party to discuss even crucial matters that can have a huge impact on the people. The latest case is the NPF boycotting the consultative meeting called by the PDA government to deliberate on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016. The opposition, which comprises of the elected members, is supposed to represent the people in the democratic process, challenge the policies of the government, and ensure that those that will harm the public are struck down. The leader of the opposition too is responsible for representing the party at meetings, formal occasions and important functions to ensure that the ruling party doesn’t misuse the power against the public. If the opposition fails to represent the people (both their supporters and opponents) and defend their interests, it is doing a disservice to the public. Refusal to take part in political debates and discussions is as good as meekly submitting to whatever the opponents wants. So, the opposition should not shy away from meetings and the ruling party too should respect its opponents and give them room to voice their opinions. All for the good of the people.