‘Need of opposition today is greater than ever’

Prajakta Joshi
Sunday, 26 May 2019

With BJP winning a clear majority in LS polls, the common man thinks that lack of opposition is a blessing in disguise

In his speech at the Pune District Court in 1952, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had asserted that one of the most important factors necessary for a successful democracy in India is ‘the existence of an opposition party’.

His speech and the necessity of these parliamentary watchdogs are more important in today’s time when a single party has won a clear majority in the Parliament like never before. A clear absence of a strong opposition, which many analysts and activists have criticised, is, however, being hailed by the common citizens of India as a blessing in disguise. 

While the educated class still believes that in theory, a government must have a good opposition, with respect to the present situation, they have largely been considering a government without opposition, a good one.

“A strong opposition need not be strong in numbers but should have strong leaders who are willing to rise above party policies and support or object a bill on its merit. However, in my personal opinion, in the last 15 years, the opposition has hardly helped in providing any constructive criticism. We have had ruckus in the parliament over non-issues wasting valuable time and taxpayers’ money,’’ an IT professional Pavan Bhave stated. 

He further said, “I think not having a strong (by numbers) opposition is a blessing in disguise and may help to expedite some of the long pending issues before the lower house. Our legislative structure is very sound, and having a check by Rajya Sabha will also play it’s part in case we have any non-meritorious bills being pushed through the Lok Sabha.”

Risks of absolute power
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Human Rights Activist Advocate Aseem Sarode said as he spoke about the risks that follow a lack of strong opposition in a democracy.

The provision of having an opposition leader and an opposition party in the Parliament has been created with the objective of asserting a check and balance in the democratic mechanism. It is necessary for better governance. There is no standing to the opinion that the lack of opposition will in any way benefit the passing of bills and laws in the Parliament, the activist added.

While opposition assures better power equations, in the present situation, the activists have also feared the centralisation of power to be not just in the hands of a single party, but also in hands of a single person. It’s not been termed Modi Wave 2.0 without a reason, right?

“It’s as though we are moving towards the presidential system of government, while we have a parliamentary democracy in place. The concentration of power in the hands of one man is certainly bad for democracy. On top of that, with the absence of an opposing force to question the government policies and decisions is a disaster,” activist Sanjay Dabhade of Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch said.

Insecurity amongst the disadvantaged and minorities
While there was a high disregard and discontent amongst the tribal communities and minorities, most of the regions with their dominance have added to the re-election of the existing members of parliament (MPs). Even in Maharashtra, out of the four reserved constituencies for the tribals, three have chosen a candidate of Bharatiya Janata Party or Shiv Sena.

“There was a large discontent amongst the tribal middle class, but it could not percolate down to the lower class tribals. Hence, despite several anti-tribal agendas and policies being promoted by the government, a large scale tribal vote went to them again, due to lack of awareness. This is a scary situation,” Dabhade stated.

Speaking for the Muslim community, Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal (MSM) President Shamsuddin Tamboli said that there has been a feeling of suppression and insecurity in the community.

“With the recurring events of lynching, the increasing dominance of the Gorakshaks who seem to be getting away with their actions and the overall rise of Hindutva politics had already made the Muslims insecure during the last term itself. During the last few days of campaigning, increasing stress could be seen on cultural nationalism and religious polarisation by the government in power. Now, the clearly huge majority has left the Muslims feeling even worse,” Tamboli added.

Power concentration
However, the number of Indians not believing the current parties in opposition to be worthy for forming a good opposition is quite high.

Senior citizen Vilas Rabde said, “In my opinion, opposition for the sake of opposition what we saw in the first term of Modi government was very irritating and disturbing for the nation’s progress. A constructive opposition is always healthy if it doesn’t obstacle the nation’s progress. But the recent history does not reflect a healthy opposition.”

But weak or strong, activists feel that having an opposition in the first place is of paramount need at the moment.

“No opposition scenario will give the ruling government an undisputed license to pass any law, act, no matter whether it’s right or wrong for the people. They wouldn’t think twice before surpassing court orders as well, just like the Maharashtra Government did with respect to the Maratha reservation issue in the postgraduate medical entrance examination,” RTI activist Vivek Velankar said.

While the opposition is at its weakest this time, Sarode has emphasised that is now even more necessary for the parties to step up and choose an opposition leader.

”Without a leader, the opposing parties would be lost. There is a need to get together and choose a leader so that the government’s decisions and activities could be watched over. The main objective of the opposition party needs to be maintained intact, no matter the number,” Sarode stated.

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