The enduring sights of anti-CAA protests were that of a youth gone astray, boldly pointing a pistol at a brave police personnel or that of an old women at Shaheen Bagh protests, one of whom even made it to the pages of the Time magazine. Anti-CAA protests were one of the two biggest anti-government campaigns in Modi’s second term. The second major agitation against the current regime has been the farmers’ protests, which is currently ongoing. Again the memorable images has been of rabid separatists desecrating the Tricolour, or unruly youth showcasing innovative new utility of tractors by creating mayhem in the heart of the capital or the famous tweets in support of the protests by a few well know international pop as well as porn stars.
Pray, where has been the opposition in all this? It is ironic that be it the anti-CAA protests or the farmers’ agitation, the opposition has been consigned to the footnotes of the biggest anti-government protests during Modi 2.0. There has been raging debate that the opposition has not been playing its role but the point is that the opposition is long dead and India should not live in denial any longer!
So how did we come to such a pass? At a national level, two entities could provide credible opposition to the Modi government, the Congress and the left combine. I lay bare the rot in both these entities in my recently released book ‘The Crusader: How Modi Won 2019 Elections.’ However, suffice to say here that their visceral hatred for Modi has blinded them to their own ideologies and instead, they have unleashed a malicious ‘anti-Modism’ propaganda as their only war cry, which has not cut much ice with the people of India.
Hence, sadly, a moribund opposition has ceded the space for setting the political narrative and with that, the capability to productively regulate and channelize the dissenting forces. As a result, a motley combination of urban naxals, so called left-liberals, separatist forces and disgruntled sections of the society have filled in that vacuum and taken the centre-stage in the absence of an appropriate political narrative. Not surprisingly and indeed, unfortunately, this mix is generating a shrill discourse with a clear anti-India flavour to it. What is even more dangerous is the fact that the opposition, which lacks the strength of numbers in parliament and do not have the ability to politically lead a challenge on the streets, is trying to piggy-back on this motley crowd just to serve their own vested political interests.
The adverse consequences of having a clueless opposition, are there for everyone to see. Firstly, anti-social elements infiltrated the rudderless agitations that led to arson, mayhem and loss of lives. The desecration of the Tricolour on January 26 this year was clearly the handiwork of separatists’ elements within the fold of farmers. Far from denouncing, a few Congress state units actually went into a celebratory frenzy on Twitter. Hence, the criticism that the opposition is encouraging and indulging in anti-India activities seems to be on point.
Secondly, without doubt there are international forces conspiring against India, as I prove it in my book sharing certain facts, which are looking to exploit fault lines within our country. They seem to be doing the back seat driving of the narrative that presents India in a poor light at the global stage. Thus, the enemy states are exploiting this perfect opportunity, and seem to be firing from the shoulders of a doomed opposition to prove their own point. Imran Khan quoting Rahul Gandhi at the UN in 2019 post the abrogation of Article 370, to build his case against India, is a damning example.
Luckily, post COVID, India’s global stature has improved with the way we have stood up to China’s expansionist urges as well as due to our successful vaccine diplomacy, being at the forefront of saving lives across the globe. The negative global press in certain quarters has not had any adverse effect on the ground. An opposition has a key role to channelize conflicting impulses and give them an appropriate direction, which is missing in our polity today. Ironically, it is not a problem of their own making but the Modi government is beset with it and needs to, somehow, find an answer to that vexed issue.