Opposition Unity For GE 2024: Myth Or Reality?

Shantanu Basu

Shantanu Basu

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A manifesto is no guarantee of opposition unity.

The major Opposition parties are making a big show of an illusory unity for GE 2024. However, what many forget is that the sight of these mandarins on a public dais holding hands held aloft often gives many that have faced their ire in the past, the heebie-jeebies.

A mere anti-Gujju duo stance will create a convenient victimhood for the duo. They will then play up this victimhood to create public sympathy. In sheeple-majority India, public sympathy comes almost gratis that the BJP/BJS/RSS realized as far back as in 1976-77.

If this is to be overcome, the BJP must be paid back in its own coin. For instance, apprehensions of non-BIMARU states to the size of a new Parliament with 1400 MPs, ruination of business and livelihood v. growing riches for corporates, partition of the economy among a clutch of corporates, ruination of the farm sector, tax sops for corporates v. sinking FD interest rates for individuals, vaccine mismanagement that caused thousands of untimely deaths, etc.

In other words, a slant would have to be given to each policy action of the incumbent central govt. to act as vote-catchers.

However, that would hardly be sufficient. The INC’s Veerappa Moily on NDTV parroted the UPA’s Common Minimum Programme (CMP) that is by definition self-limiting, even opportunistic.

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Instead, the alliance needs to derive a workable manifesto that ought to centre on employment, real rise in wages, larger budget allocations for health, education, science and technology and national defence, capping the numerical strength of Parliament to the 1971 Census, punishing bank defaulters and their facilitators, cutting back on wasteful projects like the new Parliament building and Central Vista, respecting federalism, etc.

Cash doles are not only unsustainable for cash-starved exchequers but also do not create long-life income-yielding assets. These are best dumped. In sum, the grounds of criticism of BJP policies in the above sectors ought to be made the basis of a common manifesto.

Again, a manifesto is no guarantee of opposition unity. What is of paramount import is the need to permit leaders in the 40-50 years age bracket and without family entitlement in politics and qualified professionals to be projected for GE 2024.

These will be a stark contrast to the cows and goats, nearly all with family entitlement, of the regime the opposition roundly criticizes.

In identifying the next Gen leaders, mandatory qualifications should include a PG and/or a professional degree/association membership with corresponding work experience, fluency in at least two scheduled Indian languages and English, NO criminal, tax or bank delinquency record and excellent public speaking and presentation skills based on data and fact. There are many that will fit this modest bill in the existing alliance partners.

The portrayal of the new Gen as men/women of the masses is critical to their political future and that of the alliance.

What the Opposition cannot lose sight of is that its new line of leaders must hit the road immediately, convincingly explaining their alliance agenda, village upward, as in a blitzkrieg.

oppVoters also need to view and review the new generation of leaders. Things may radically change in Delhi in the second quarter of 2022 (after the UP results are declared), so forewarned is forearmed.

The old guard alliance Mandarins with its baggage of the past must either retreat to their respective retirement homes, limiting themselves in honestly identifying and mentoring young leaders to emerge at district level or risk being consigned to an insignificant footnote in Indian history like a Margdarshak Mandal in eternal search of both marg and mandal.

Yet they need to work out the seat sharing arrangement between alliance partners so that the vote is not fragmented.

Once that is sorted out, BJP will be decimated and the Mandal can all be awarded a Bharat Ratna medal and certificate in a mass award ceremony with a single prize money being equally shared amongst them. That will make them national heroes, wiping their sins of the past.

Finally, the opposition alliance needs to assume a concrete form by Oct-Nov, 2021, in time for the UP assembly elections. Not just that, important states like Karnataka and Gujarat will have their assembly elections before 2024. The alliance must contest these too, on seat sharing basis. Severing the roots of the current ruling regime will have to start from the states and culminate in GE 2024.

Also Read: 

Opposition Unity In India Is A Mirage

Very human to curse the dead

मेहरबान जज साहिब

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Shantanu Basu

Shantanu Basu

Writer is a retired senior civil servant, public policy analyst, author and commentator.

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