Opposition has its task cut out, must step up

Opposition has its task cut out, must step up

The year 2024 is the ultimate election year in human history, one can say.

The year 2024 is the ultimate election year in human history, one can say. It is not an election year, but the election year. It will see the festival of democracy throughout, with as many as 64 countries, along with European Union, will have around two billion voters head to polling booths to exercise their right to franchise. The will of the people will triumph, hopefully without fear or favour. With the democratic mode of government itself facing one of the biggest tests in recent times, results will be consequential for people, nations and the globe for many years to come. Many democracies seem to be in a precarious state.

Financial stress, physical insecurity due to ethnic clashes or gang violence, food shortages etc., are becoming more pronounced than ever before, fuelling a perception that democracy is too feeble to stave off threats to people’s lives and assets. They seem ready to give up their liberties and defer to wishes, or diktats, of authoritarian leaders. The challenge to the democratic system quite stark. Already, the Latin America and the Caribbean countries, viz., Brazil, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua, have seen distressed and dejected people root for authoritarianism. A weak opposition or lack of it altogether is emboldening authoritarian leaders like Putin and Xi to take recourse to force to meet their geopolitical ends. No democracy means no freedom of speech and other human, fundamental rights.

Diversity of ideologies will be suppressed and any dissent is bound to be punished as intolerant leaders despise it. Despite the existence of rule of law, for a just and orderly society, democracy is hampered if the opposition is weak. It encourages governments to cock a snook at democratic systems and practices, imperiling peace, justice and order in the society. Thus, a strong opposition is very vital to keep the governments in check and on right course.

Ironically, the future of opposition itself is at stake in the world’s largest democracy where around 90 million voters would cast their votes to elect the government of their choice. Should they vote for a leader with near unanimity, it will weaken or even obliterate the opposition. They may not be any deterrence against possible authoritarianism. Thus, one wishes there will be a transfer of power with decent space for the opposition which has to act a bulwark against undemocratic tendencies. This is all the more important in a vast, secular country like ours, with most diverse cultures and faiths, linguistic and ethnic populace. Communalism, corruption, and autocracy should be guarded against.

With the present INDI bloc teetering, what with many a party or neta calling it quits, Narendra Modi is enthused to set ‘Ab ki baar char sau paar’ target for the NDA in the LS polls. The opposition, mainly the Congress, has itself to blame for the sorry state of affairs which threaten the very vitals of democracy. Though the Congress is promising ‘Nyay’ guarantees for equitable justice to various sections of society, and prosperity of women, youth, farmers, labourers etc., its whimsical leaders including Rahul are personally targeting Modi, undoing any merits that may have accrued to the bloc.

With the EC laying out election roadmap, it is high time the opposition leaders pulled up their socks, showed restraint and turned public attention to unemployment, price rise, CAA, NRC, elections in J&K, skewed electoral bonds, threat to secularism, farmers’ issues, India’s dismal HDI and SDGs performance – and their idea of Viksit Bharat. GODSPEED!

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