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Tainted legacy of opposition unity and GE2024

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Bimal Prasad Mohapatra
Bimal Prasad Mohapatrahttp://www.trident.ac.in
Columnist is a Senior Research Fellow in Defense Research and Studies (DRaS), Faculty of Management Studies in Trident Group of Institutions, Bhubaneswar, and author of novel "Travails of LOVE" and "Bimal's ANAND MATH". He writes column on Geopolitics, Indian Politics and Media for MyVoice.OpIndia, DRaS, The Kootneeti, The Diplomatists, The Avenue Mail, Delhi Post, Orissa Post, Outlook Afghanista, The Manila Times, etc. And also Moderated Panel Discussion on Geopolitics, Politics and Media

Constitutionally mandated GE2024 is nearly 19 months away if election isn’t preponed as seen in case of 14th General Election(GE) or not deferred as seen in case of 6thGE. Deferment is ruled out in view of present ruling party’s principled adherence to democratic value system. It is expected that there’ll be a big fight between ruling BJP-led NDA and motley of yet to be united opposition either under the banner of existing UPA or any other formulation as seen in late 20th century India.

The condition of Grand Old Party, also the main opposition party in present Parliament and the only party other than BJP having all India organizational bases and has been leading the UPA post Vajpayee era –though fast getting thinner in so far as cadres and elected law-makers are concerned under mother-son ownership- is such that it has been every now and then questioned by the regional parties for its rational/right to lead the anti-BJP/NDA front at national level.

It isn’t that NDA now has retained its original avatar of Vajpayee-Advani-Fernandes era. However, in the meanwhile, BJP has grown with size and numbers at the cost of its allies enabling it to form the government on its own; while in UPA, its lead-party Congress crumbles, its regional parties have seen substantial growth.

BJP’s big regional ally Telugu Desam Party left NDA before GE2019 and other allies such as Shiv Sena, Janata Dal United and Siromoni Akali Dal left post-GE2019, and now latter three are in opposition camp while TDP owner Chandrababu Naidu, after being electorally thrashed by a regional greenhorn, regretted for his decision, and many of his sitting MPs and cadres left him to join BJP in horde.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, since his leaving NDA, has been leading to unit non-BJP parties in missionary spirit ignoring mocking advice from his state new ally RJD’s President to look for an ashram as if he knows CM is soon going for political sanyas. As per many political observers and BJP leaders, Nitish has left NDA having been lured for PM chair when there are many proclaimed claimants for the same from several regional parties despite having no national presence.

As the election is several months away, it is difficult to predict the outcome of opposition unit effort in the poll which are fought on the basis of caste, religion, regional parochialism, freebies, etc. in the crowd of countless caste, religion, regional and freebies based parties, and when the outcome of GE2004 is still fresh in the mind of opinion leaders.

Post-independence after three decades of consecutive Congress rules, mostly lead by Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, a non-Congress Party called Janata Party –literally a hodgepodge of parties and disgruntled Congress leaders with diverse ideologies but with single most objective of getting rid of Indira-Sanjay dictatorship- won the election with absolute majority in 1977 and formed the government.

But the experiment didn’t succeed, and before it completed its mandated term, it collapsed and one of its fraction called Bharatiya Lok Dal with support of Congress (Indira) formed the government, which before facing mandatory Trust Vote felled as wily Indira pulled the rug and General Election announced. Many political pundits blamed to the power ambition of few leaders for the failure of first non-Congress governance at the national level which tainted the experiment.

Again another serious attempt to unit non-Congress parties including splinters of former Janata Party and some disgruntled Congress leaders -latter came to be known as NF- was made before GE1989. In fact, GE1989 was four fronts contest as Left parties and Right-Centre parties also fought the election separately. And this time, it was against Congress Government’s corruptions though serious issues threatening national integrity such as terrorism in border state of Punjab, J&K and North-East were mindboggling and national economy was leading towards national insolvency.

The result was hung Parliament with message that people by and large didn’t want Congress Government any more as the party shown the door once again so soon. The trend of hung parliament remains in Indian politics for next two and half decades as there was no best alternatives.

The election slogan ‘oust corrupt Congress’ was so irresistible in GE1989 that hostile Left parties and Right-Centre BJP joined hands to give outside support to NF government under dismissed Congress leader and newly crowned Mr. Clean, V. P. Singh. But, this experiment wasn’t free from dreaded political virus of power hunger as seen in Janata experiment earlier. Decision to finally crown V. P. Singh took several days of backdoor manipulations.

And later to retain the power, NF’s top leadership didn’t hesitate to ignite caste conflict which led to unprecedented violence -tearing the fragile social fabric- mostly in cow-belt where majority of NF leaders belonged to, and BJP was strongly rooted. As BJP withdrew the outside support out of fear of losing its support base built over several decades of hard work in an environment of minority appeasement politics, PM V. P. Singh resigned before completing one year in office.

But, this time, instead of going for fresh mandate, V. P. Singh bête noire Chandra Sekhar formed the government with support of Congress against which they fought the election just a year back. As history repeats itself, Congress pulled the rug in the flimsy ground. General Election held. As the result was hung Parliament, the largest party Congress’s non-Gandhi leader witty P. V. Narasinha Rao formed the government and served the full-term cobbling up majority by hook or by crook.

Post-GE1996, the situation was no different. Three experiments one by BJP and two by NF made to give stable government, but in vain. As a result, in 1998, another poll held. Despite hung parliament, the largest party BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee formed the government as the leader of NDA. But within one year, it became victim of power hunger. In the subsequent GE held in 1999, though the result was repeat of GE1998, BJP’s Vajpayee could manage to govern closed to full-term.

But as per the political observers, Vajpayee government’s long survival was mostly due to fear of politicians to beg votes so frequently. The same fear may be the major reason of full-term survival of Congress-led UPA governments despite there was hung parliaments in GE2004 and GE2009 and large-scale public discontent against the governance. Here, the voters’ turnouts in both the GEs were more or less same at 58%. Was it due to non-availability of credible leadership to lead the nation either in Congress or any other parties?

In 2014, for first time after seven GEs over two and half decades, BJP with absolute majority of 282 MPs got elected, and its leader Narendra Modi, who led the nationwide NDA campaign, formed the government. Voters’ turnout was 66.44%, a record since first GE post independence and 8% more than GE2009 as if the voters were long searching for a leader, who could give a dynamic and corruption free stable government, and physically sporty Modi was one such as he had demonstrated his ability as CM of Gujarat for 13 years getting elected thrice consecutively, in a state where only two CMs completed full one term long back in mid-1980s and mid-1960s. In GE2019, voters turnout further increased by 1% with increased number of ruling party MPs elected, which was nothing less than the stamp of approval to ruling party leadership, in a very competitive democratic politics. And BJP vote share increased by 5%.

In view of the issues discussed above, will the voters prefer another chaotic situation as seen in late 20th and early 21st centuries post-GE2024 when there’s no dictatorship-cum-Emergency of undemocratic dynasty prevalent before 1977 and the corruption taints of the scale seen before 1989 and 1996 and corruption-cum-unaccountable remote control government before 2014, by offering opportunity to motley of power hungry opposition leaders, many of them undemocratic dynasty products, with tainted legacy?

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Bimal Prasad Mohapatra
Bimal Prasad Mohapatrahttp://www.trident.ac.in
Columnist is a Senior Research Fellow in Defense Research and Studies (DRaS), Faculty of Management Studies in Trident Group of Institutions, Bhubaneswar, and author of novel "Travails of LOVE" and "Bimal's ANAND MATH". He writes column on Geopolitics, Indian Politics and Media for MyVoice.OpIndia, DRaS, The Kootneeti, The Diplomatists, The Avenue Mail, Delhi Post, Orissa Post, Outlook Afghanista, The Manila Times, etc. And also Moderated Panel Discussion on Geopolitics, Politics and Media
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