Opposition in disarray, divorced from reality

Mamata Banerjee and Sharad Pawer
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 Mamata Banerjee and Sharad Pawer

Highlights

The need of the hour is to have a strong alternative to BJP since UPA is a closed chapter and it is difficult to revive it. Is that possible? Though some efforts are being made by the leaders like Mamata Banerjee and Sharad Pawer to bring all non-BJP leaders and parties on one platform, such experiment may not succeed in creating confidence among the voters because they are all time-tested leaders and parties who joined hands many times and divorced each other.

The need of the hour is to have a strong alternative to BJP since UPA is a closed chapter and it is difficult to revive it. Is that possible? Though some efforts are being made by the leaders like Mamata Banerjee and Sharad Pawer to bring all non-BJP leaders and parties on one platform, such experiment may not succeed in creating confidence among the voters because they are all time-tested leaders and parties who joined hands many times and divorced each other.

What is required is to have a progressive looking opposition with cohesive ideology which will not pull the cart in different directions leading to collapse of a coalition government. Experience shows that such a situation for now is not possible because all of them live in ivory towers. They refuse to study, understand and implement the best practices across the globe. Take Switzerland for example. It has very good pensions scheme where the old and the retired need not worry about food and shelter during later years. They have come with an interesting concept called 'Time Bank.' Some of those who are retired but in good health take up work like taking care of single persons. They don't take up such jobs for money. They put their time in 'time bank' which they can withdraw when they are unable to move.

Sounds curious. The original 'Time Bank' was an old-age pension programme developed by the Swiss Federal Ministry of Social Security. People saved the 'time' taking care of the elderly when they were younger, and when they were old, ill or needed care could withdraw it. Applicants must be healthy, good at communicating and full of love. Every day they must look after the elderly who need help. Their service hours will be deposited into the personal 'time' accounts of the social security system. The work could include shopping, cleaning room, taking them out for sunbath, chatting with them etc.

According to the agreement, after one year of service, 'Time Bank' will calculate working hours and issue them a 'Time Bank Card.' When required, he or she can utilise the timecard. If they fall sick or suffer fracture or are unable to move, they can submit a withdrawal request to the 'Time Bank' and in less than two hours the 'Time Bank' sends a nursing worker to take care of this person. The Swiss government also passed legislation to support the 'Time Bank' pension scheme.

But here we are banking on caste and community-based schemes and transfer of some cash into the accounts of beneficiaries and claim the lives of poor have been revolutionised. They forget they are custodians of public money. The opposition which has a chance to put the government in dock through meaningful debates and discussions stalls Parliament and state legislatures. This amounts to violation of the basic responsibility that has been bestowed upon them by the people.

Discussions and debates can help in finding solution to issues like paddy purchase which have been troubling the Telangana farmers. But what is being witnessed is mere ruckus. Telangana CM even threatened to spend Rs 250 crore public money to hire trucks to dump paddy in Delhi. Is this how a responsible government should behave? It's time to stop indulging in theatrics and look for solutions.

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