Skip to main content

Why blame opposition? 2014 verdict had told civil society where India was heading

Rahul Gandhi with civil society leaders
By Joe Athialy*
“The winner takes it all, the loser standing small” -- ABBA
Now that BJP won has emphatically, everything BJP did is right, ‘touching a chord with the common people’, one is a Chanakya, and another a giant. Every other party and leader got it all wrong. Their slogans did not strike. Their strategies were wrong, they woke up to forming alliances late, and all that.
But let’s be fair.
Blaming opposition alone for BJP’s victory is unfair. Yes, the opposition could have done more, better and smarter. But in front of BJP’s hyper nationalism, expansive use of fake media, divisive politics, negative campaigning, pathetically lowering the quality of political discourse, getting even personal, and splurging of resources, opposition fell short. In fact, one ray of hope amidst this gloom is that the opposition did not stoop down to BJP’s level and they held their nerves and played it relatively fair.
Particularly, the Congress party, despite all shortcomings, raised the right kind of issues – joblessness, crumbling economy, demonetisation, GST, Rafael, cronyism et al. Every time BJP wanted to change the narrative of the election campaign Congress repeatedly tried to bring it back to the above issues. Admit, it was not enough and it did not succeed. But let’s not forget that Congress tried, and gave a spirited and combative fight. They did not mince words in opposing BJP. It was loud and clear.
Looking back at the years what Congress did not do was taking the struggle to the streets. They missed all possible opportunities to do so. Something which not only would have made the fight real, but energised their cadre as well. They pinned their hopes only on a savvy social media campaign.
Apart from opposition parties, the results are also a clarion call to civil society organisations and people’s movements. In the recent last few decades, they tried to shun electoral politics (except in 2014), tried to be a pressure group and asserted themselves to be the beholders of people’s politics. No disagreement with all that. That worked when the founding principles of India was still intact. That, when the ruling dispensation had to take the cover of some people-centric policies, upholding the principles of democracy and secularism.
That is history.
The ground beneath our feet has moved. Values and principles sacrificed, institutions damaged, spaces for debates and dissent shrunk. Democracy cannot any longer be taken for granted. It has to be fought for and protected. Every day.
2014 was the closest when civil society organizations (CSOs)/people's movements (PMs) took part in electoral politics in large numbers. That Aam Aadmi Party, under the banner all of them fought the elections, failed to make any dent then, and the way it disseminated soon after made nearly all to leave electoral politics and withdraw to their individual struggles and issues. 2014 verdict should have told us where we are heading to and the past five years should have invested in building up and spreading a challenge to the fascist forces.
What it calls for today is an active participation in electoral politics by CSOs/PMs. Calling spade a spade, taking sides, opposing some and supporting some other. That does not take away their right to fight the parties they support on certain issues and that does not make them apologists of any political parties.
Time for general campaigns like save secularism, save democracy and save Constitution is gone. Now it’s time to reclaim what is lost.
Electoral politics is too important to be left only to a few political parties and some leaders.
---
*With the Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), Delhi

Comments

Leo Saldanha said…


Interesting analysis. Especially the part where you say Opposition should have hit the streets. Turned out it was only AIKS that repeatedly brought the genuine struggles of farmers, tribal’s and forest dwellers to the street. Used to be a time when this was done by mainstream and major political parties. When workers and farmers are abandoned by political parties, they lose touch with the pulse of people. And that gap has to be closed. Which means, Opposition leaders must not merely endorse issues and concerns civil society, workers, farmers, Fishworkers, tribals, etc., have been raising. They must struggle with them and find their own soul away from caste and clan dynamics
Snigdha Samal said…


The idea of opposition hitting the street would have been a nonstarter. Most of the notable opposition leaders have come thus far via other means than activism or grassroots level work. Without presence of glamour or family name none of them can gather a crowd even in a flea market with just sloganeering or a fiery speech. The Communist leaders we see are fast losing their relevance. Let's admit the Indian political parties are feudal and rely entirely on minions hard work. But since the emergence of Modi the minions and their followers have found a better or more viable option. This is an opportunity to break the old wheels of the inner party functioning.

TRENDING

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.