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OpinionsTime Running Out For INDI Alliance

Time Running Out For INDI Alliance

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Every passing day featuring parties within the alliance sniping at each other at state level is bad

publicity for the alliance particularly given the proximity of the 2024 general elections

By SHYAM G MENON

India's Opposition parties, currently claiming to put up a fight to the Bharatiya Janata Party at the level, require to understand a fundamental reality — few give them a damn.

In their disparate pocket burrows, in their respective states, they may count. But as an alliance, nationally — no; not as yet.

And it is isn't because Nitish Kumar returned recently to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

If anything, he merely amplified the longstanding opportunism in Indian ; his re-entry to the NDA also underscored the BJP's willingness to wield power at any cost.

Any fear of the BJP now privy to Opposition strategy given Kumar's crossover, is also negated by the fact that in a surveillance State (which India appears to be already) anything the Opposition does is anyways known to the government.

Besides, the best way to fight secretive parties like the BJP is with an open architecture.

The reason some voters don't give a damn for the Opposition is because they (including sadly, those aware of the importance of an Opposition in a democracy) ask what is the alternative to the BJP even as the political opposition exists as the INDIA alliance.

The alliance is there, but these voters stare right through it. This clearly points to two things.

First, there is the perception of the BJP as a solid unified entity with purpose and message.

Second, to the extent the BJP is perceived so, the Opposition lags in similar qualities.

Thus, as of late January 2024, between the two routes to containing the BJP — defeating it in the Parliament elections and bogging it down in state level assembly elections that are easier for the Opposition to win — the latter appeared still the practical option.

In other words, we could be staring at another term for the Narendra Modi government, unless the Opposition pulls off a miracle.

A miracle is hinged to three factors in the main.

First, there has to be no more than a voice or two speaking for the Opposition alliance.

Every passing day featuring parties within the alliance sniping at each other at state level is bad publicity for the Opposition alliance particularly given the proximity of the 2024 general elections.

The problem here is that an exchange of words in Bengal or Kerala impacts voters' confidence in the Opposition alliance in some other state, because the prism used for perception is the general election, not assembly polls.

It raises the question — how can parties that bicker so badly at state level, stand together at the national level? And if they do, doesn't it seem hypocritical? A Tower of Babel this close to the elections is very risky.

Unfortunately, aside from calling itself INDIA, the Opposition alliance does not seem to have grasped the seriousness of its outing for it lacks a spokesperson who can authoritatively overrule the blabbering of others in the alliance's ranks.

In its absence the alliance progresses like an unscripted disaster.

Worse, its unscripted progress magnifies the comparative orderliness and regimentation in the BJP's progress as per their script.

No wonder, we have voters who are willing to argue that India needs a dictatorship.

Second, there has to be a Common Minimum Programme agreed to by all the constituents of the Opposition alliance, which is easily understood by the electorate and is placed before the electorate well in advance of the general elections.

The BJP is miles ahead in its ability to posture for a dictatorship-loving, corporate-loving, tradition-loving, family-loving, money-loving old-fashioned class.

I support the Opposition because I am seeking an alternative but I have no clue what the Opposition alliance actually stands for.

I don't know who the Opposition alliance seeks to connect with, which itself reveals how much I have understood what the Opposition alliance stands for in the absence of clear messaging and commonly agreed programmes from them.

Quite frankly speaking, half of their effort in this department is rendered easy by the BJP itself because of its unambiguity about what it represents and the dangers of that being evident to all.

Few parties provoke opposition to their antics as the BJP does.

If in spite of this, the Opposition fails to package its messaging and get its act together, then it risks being dubbed a basket of the unworthy.

It is true that the values, which the Opposition supports (values herein viewed as being the opposite of what the BJP pushes for itself) deny it the opportunity to weaponise its messaging like the BJP does.

But for the express goal of battling the ruling party in the 2024 general elections, the Opposition alliance requires to be clear on what may be expected should a vote be cast in its name.

Third, it was heart-breaking to hear a senior functionary of the Trinamool Congress say recently that months were lost to decide seat-sharing.

Seat-sharing is a very complicated task best accomplished well before elections, because not only has the supporters of a candidate got to commence campaigning for her/him, but those traditionally opposed to the individual and her/his party and now on the same side courtesy the Opposition alliance, must also toe the line without any friction on display.

The challenge before the Opposition alliance in this regard is genuine because unlike the BJP, its does not have cadre-based shadow actors of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh sort, to do such work in a deliberate, disciplined fashion.

In a country, where at least some voters feel that a dictatorship is better, discipline counts.

In a nutshell therefore, the Opposition alliance needs to whip its act into shape. Time is running out. Nitish Kumar doesn't matter.

What matters is messaging, communicating and being solidly one. Else, its bye-bye 2024.

 

Shyam G Menon is a freelance

journalist based in Mumbai.

 

 

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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