Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi would be the first to welcome a constructive and credible opposition. To his credit he seems open to ideas and is sufficiently self-confident to recognize that a constructive opposition would benefit his government. Now at last there is a faint move that might lead to creation of a genuine opposition.
After the BJP swept to power as a single majority party this writer suggested it was the need of the hour to build a credible opposition in order to create a two party democracy. On May 19th I wrote:
“Need one recall that Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mr. Nitish Kumar were united before they split? Also, SP and BSP were united before they split? Indeed, this writer initiated moves for the alliance between late Kanshi Ram and Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav which first gave the BSP its legislative presence. These leaders split because they got influenced by caste instead of by class. They focused on secularism instead of on federalism. It is time they got on the right course.”
Well, Mr. Lalu Yadav and Mr. Nitish Kumar have united to fight the forthcoming assembly elections in Bihar. There are ten by elections due shortly in which they will face their first test. Regardless of how they perform they must persist with the alliance to carry it forward eventually for the emergence of a united party. Mr. Lalu Yadav seems to be on the right track. He urged Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Miss Mayawati likewise to unite and challenge the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Miss Mayawati has rejected the proposal. Regardless, whether through an alliance or single party an effective unit is needed in each state. That alone will help create a national federal alternative. For its success the following steps may be considered.
First, parties should cease talking overtime about secularism and focus on federalism. Talk of secularism consolidates the BJP Hindu vote. Secularism highlights identity. This gives the BJP a handle to exploit identity by encouraging caste divisions that recoil against regional parties. Secondly, the main focus of attack should not be the BJP. Regional parties should seek fundamental change. They should attack the historical record of the Congress and take full advantage of the anti-Congress wave. They must announce they will bury Congress culture. The BJP should be portrayed as a clone of the Congress. The same centralized pro-big business policies were followed by Mr. Manmohan Singh as are by Mr. Modi. Regional parties should shun national parties but welcome all individual leaders from all parties who accept their agenda. Thirdly, Regional parties must formulate a radical, systemic transforming agenda that has maximum nationwide appeal which will usher genuine change. Lastly, a proper federal party constitution must be framed that renders autonomous functioning to state units but allows cohesive functioning at the centre.
All this is achievable. It calls for discipline and determination. If regional parties really want to challenge the BJP, nothing less will do.