Need for unity between Regional parties & Congress
A broad consensus is emerging between regional parties and Congress party to fight Lok Sabha poll in 2019 to meet the challenge of aggressive BJP. The opposition parties including regional parties and Congress have little option but to join hands if they desire to stop Amit Shah and Narendra Modi in their forward march in 2019. While the regional parties can take on BJP in States like U.P , Bihar, West Bengal, Tamilnadu, Andhra, Telangana and Orissa. In States like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Gujarat Congress will have to take the lead to challenge BJP.
To make the fight effective, Congress party will have to agree to play the role of a junior partner in many States. In such a set up there will be no leader, but still will have to contribute . In the absence of an understanding, no effective challenge will be possible against BJP. Congress may have appeal in many States as a major player and in some as subordinate partner but on its own it will lack the fire power against BJP.
The need for a combination is also necessary as BJP during the last four years has posed a challenge to the regional parties which included those in opposition and some of their own allies. While Telugu Desam, a long time ally of BJP has walked out of National Democratic Alliance, Shiv Sena has declared that it will not align with BJP in future. Even Akali Dal and some allies in U.P are unhappy with BJP and have accused the leaders of BJP of acting in arrogant manner with allies.
A large section of population including Farmers and Dalits are also unhappy with BJP. Both have shown their anger by organising protest marches. While farmers marched to Mumbai in large numbers, Dalits organised a nation-wide Bandh which led to violence in U.P, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Dalits are unhappy with BJP for continuous atrocities committed against them by high castes connected with BJP and Supreme Court order as they feel the act dealing with atrocities against Scheduled Casres and Tribes has been diluted.
Farmers are also angry because they are not getting fair price for their produce. They claim that they were being denied even the price fixed by Government as a result they are suffering because of rising debt burden. In some States loan waivers have been announced but they offer no solution and only provide temporary relief. The opposition parties can exploit discontent among farmers, Dalits and among youth on account of unemployment.
An alliance is difficult because Congress party has to accept the current reality in States where regional parties are strong and regional parties have to give up their opposition to Congress which was a major challenge to them in the past. The combination of opposition parties and Congress will also have to agree to a minimum common program as in the absence of it they will lack credibility among masses.
The nation needs unity of all parties which are wedded to secular values and care for the poor and feel that marginalised are to be protected. During the last four years the minorities have been marginalised and a serious attempt is being made to divide people on communal lines. Many institutions like CBI have been used to undermine opposition parties. Even judiciary is unhappy because of delay in appointment of judges to High Courts and Supreme Court.
To ensure that democracy and federal system work, there is need to build a credible opposition to save democracy and secular democracy.
(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)