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Why The Opposition Is Also To Blame For The Poor Policies Of The BJP

Stalling Parliament just makes matters worse.

19/12/2016 7:48 AM IST | Updated 20/12/2016 8:38 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Ecosystems thrive on a meticulous paradigm of checks and balances.

Species rein in one another. The "fittest" ones are ensured survival, but not absolute supremacy. The moment the stability of an ecosystem is threatened by an out-of-control entity within it, the other species try to resist the invasion until balance is restored.

In the absence of a credible political alternative to challenge the BJP's (and Narendra Modi's) mandate, talking the talk is good enough to remain in government.

Political ecosystems are not so different, especially democratic ones. The governments get voted in on a majority mandate in democracies, but it is the role of the political entities in the opposition to take governments to task and ensure transparency, accountability and merit of decision making and overall governance. Inadequate oppositions, however, tend to contribute to the imbalance of political ecosystems, turning them into semi-dictatorships.

The current Indian political climate is one such dwindling ecosystem, devoid of a credible opposition to challenge and counter the governance flaws of the heavily mandated ruling BJP. The Narendra Modi-led BJP dispensation at the Centre is by all political benchmarks a mediocre government at best. It talks the talk big time, yet it seldom walks the talk (in its entirety). And in the absence of a credible political alternative to challenge the BJP's (and Narendra Modi's) mandate in the Centre, talking the talk is good enough to remain in government.

So if India or Indians are feeling the pinch of some of the less thought through decisions made by the Modi government, the Congress and other opposition parties are equally to blame for these political debacles. For they let these things happen as a result of their inadequacies. When the opposition disrupts Parliament sessions, it deprives citizens of valuable time and opportunity to have matters of public importance debated by their elected representatives. More importantly, such shenanigans divert the focus from any potential underperformance of the government. Mudslinging merely for the sake of creating chaos—and headlines—is a gross disservice to the people of India.

India is haemorrhaging at various levels. Hostile neighbours are unrelenting in their attempts to harm the nation and its people. Internally, the situation in Kashmir has been simmering for months now. Communal tensions run thick through religiously polarised factions. Demonetisation has added another layer of inconvenience for ordinary Indians. And the much promised "acchhe din" seem more theoretical than ever.

As a good friend recently (and rightfully) educated me with his comment, "Yes, people are frustrated with Modi and the BJP, but what other alternative is there for them to elect and bring into power?"

The fact that Modi and BJP are getting away with half-baked, ill-implemented policies reflects more poorly on the opposition of the day than the government of the day.

So the choice that Indians are left with is to prefer the "lesser evil" out of them all. They feel they must stick with the BJP and Modi, even if they are aggrieved by their policies and performance, for the alternative remains bleak. And this should cover the Congress and all others in the opposition in a thick miasma of shame. Yet, they all remain defiant and unchanged in their approach and modus operandi.

Modi, the politician and the Prime Minister, is a savvy individual. That he is a good orator is no secret. So he capitalises on his inherent strength each time he reaches out to the people of India. Through a potent mix of oration and histrionics, he makes sure his "mann ki baat" resonates with the common people. Through his well-crafted messages, he drip feeds India with doses of tangible (albeit selective) successes by his government on matters of economic upliftment, citizen welfare, foreign policy and internal safety. In short, he keeps the promise of "acchhe din" alive, and real.

Most of the decisions made by Modi as a Prime Minister have been mere PR exercises (at best) on his part. The much talked about "chai" in Pakistan, the "surgical strikes" against Pakistan-based insurgents, and more recently, the demonetisation of ₹500 and ₹1000 notes to bring down the black economy. They are all matters that strike an emotional and a patriotic chord with many Indians.

Mudslinging merely for the sake of creating chaos is a gross disservice to the people... such shenanigans divert the focus from any potential underperformance of the government.

So, Modi and his government keep putting out "visual" signatures of their actions and intentions to overcome all the perils that have held back India over the years. Most of these decisions, if dissected closely enough by non-partisan experts, will reveal a lack of clear policy and planning. But Modi and the BJP have been able to get away with every single one of them because they have created enough buzz to have the entire nation raving about the PM's "bravado" and "charisma". This is the modern-day 140-character-bound Twitter version of government decision-making. Instantly gratifying.

To be fair to Modi, that is all he and his government really need to do in modern times to stay in power. Talking the talk is good enough for a country that elected Modi into power after getting frustrated with a party and a prime minister that refused to talk (quite literally).

The political opposition of India is tasked with questioning the decisions made by the ruling party to ensure that they have been well thought through and are intended to better the lot of citizens of the country. The fact that Modi and BJP are getting away with half-baked, ill-implemented policies, in my view, reflects more poorly on the opposition of the day than the government of the day.

The current Indian opposition parties are inadequate to dethrone the ruling BJP, and therefore, India and Indians will continue to put up with a substance-depleted Modi and the BJP.

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