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Jagan needs to learn the ropes

Jagan needs to learn the ropes
Highlights

The month of June started with a festive mood at the Centre and in Telangana as the Central and the State governments completed two years in office....

The month of June started with a festive mood at the Centre and in Telangana as the Central and the State governments completed two years in office. While the BJP called it Vikas Parv, the TRS in Telangana organised grandiose celebrations on the occasion of the second formation day of the new State.

The neighbouring Telugu State Andhra Pradesh launched a new initiative ‘Nava Nirmana Deeksha’ and took a pledge to rise like a sphinx, taking inspiration from countries like Japan, Singapore and other such countries.

The country is also set to for the month-long Ramzan festival. But all of a sudden, Andhra Pradesh is on boil. Reason is the intemperate and disparaging comments made by the Leader of Opposition, Y S Jaganmohan Reddy. His comments that people should beat the Chief Minister with chappals have brought down the image of a Leader of Opposition.

What is more unfortunate is that some senior opposition leaders are also emulating Jagan and are parroting such comments. The former President and Missile Man, APJ Abdul Kalam, once said: “My view is that at a younger age your optimism is more and you have more imagination etc. You have less bias,” but this does not appear to be true in case of the Leader of Opposition in Andhra Pradesh.

His behavior, his body language and the repeated outbursts only indicate the sorry state of affairs in the State in particular and the country in general, since use of foul or derogatory language by opposition party leaders irrespective of parties has become the order of the day. This shows how badly we are lacking collective responsibility and collaborative management. A powerful opposition is necessary to check misuse of power by the ruling party as dissent is extremely important for mature democracies to function properly.

LoP is necessary to ensure public confidence in candidate selection in high posts. It’s believed that the Indian polity has been able to sustain its democratic nature because of the constant scrutinising by opposition parties. A party might not be able to form the government because of lack of majority, but that doesn’t take away the responsibility of acting as a watchdog of the ruling party, when it comes to questioning the government and preventing them from taking negative strides.

But at the same time in a parliamentary style of government, the opposition party is judged by the way it conducts itself in the House and outside. Holding the ruling party accountable to the public should be the prime focus of the opposition. However, there are several other layered responsibilities that they are expected to perform.

Instead of being completely critical of the party in power, the opposition needs to put a check on the excesses. Since the people of the country count on them to uphold people’s best interests, they ought to be sure that the government’s decisions don’t have negative implications on the country’s overall health.

Besides debating legislation in the House and ensuring that it’s a well thought out decision, the opposition should also protest against any Bill that may go against the interests of the people. The opposition needs to see itself as the representative of common people who expect justice and freedom from unlawful practices.

The opposition members need to be proactive enough to raise questions and recommend methodologies to the government. Apart from examining the performance of the executive, they also have to demonstrate its achievements or policies that can contribute towards the efficient running of the government.

Being in Opposition is not just about opposing the government. There are occasions when the Opposition agrees with the government. If the solution proposed by the government has a wide support, and is soundly based, then it’s only natural for the Opposition to agree.

Leading the Opposition
“Opposition parties don’t have the same resources as the government and the Executive, so they have to work twice as hard to get the same results. It’s also really important that the leader keeps a close eye and ears on what the public is saying, needs and wants.

The other major role is proposing alternatives to what the government is doing, so the public gets the benefit of political debate between different directions. The attitudes of the Leader of Opposition matter a lot in performing his role. He should have statesmanship like qualities. He should know when to strike and when to retreat.

The role of the opposition party is not to oppose every decision of the ruling party or incite passions. Rather, it is the duty of the opposition party to support the ruling party for the acts that are in the interests of the State or the nation. “A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind- But what if the wind insists, turns into a hurricane every now and then?” says Lewis Mumford, an American historian, sociologist and philosopher.

In Andhra Pradesh the wind in the form of main opposition party YSRCP insists on turning into a hurricane every now and then. The LoP is giving vent to his frustration that he had missed at least two opportunities to become the Chief Minister. But then he fails to realise that healthy teams begin with thriving leaders who have high levels of maturity and tolerance. He should realise that combining solid theology, cutting-edge brain science, and experience will help him display rare leadership qualities which can help him and his team go the next level in politics.

“Opposition should put forward different viewpoints where questions are asked to the government, and the government should be made accountable and nobody should be spared, but in doing so, it would be great if we uphold parliamentary traditions,” said the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The LoP in Andhra Pradesh should read more, listen to saner advice from party elders and give up the feeling that he and he alone knows everything. The body language of LoP also matters a lot. NTR had a great body language.

He knew how to put forward emotions and also how to argue effectively. The former Prime Minister and Iron Lady Indira Gandhi used to say that her father Pt Nehru was a statesman but she was a political person. She had a very powerful opposition in Parliament as there were topmost leaders like Atal Behari Vajpayee, Indrajit Gupta, Somnath Chatterjee and the like who could tear apart the government by their logical arguments and were capable of offering alternative solutions.

There used to be lot of rhetoric but never did any of the LoPs or the Leader of House cross the Laxman Rekha. I was witness to one such debate on budget during Indira Gandhi’s regime. A heated debate was on and Atal Behari Vajpayee was speaking. Indira Gandhi found the going tough. But then she had the statesman-like quality. She got up interrupted Vajpayee and said, “Vajpayeeji I cannot match your rhetoric.”

It was a real strategic move. It made Vajpayee smile and the level of rhetoric instantly came down. With the kind of opposition leaders we have now I don’t think we will be able to see such moments at least in the near future. Y S Jaganmohan Reddy needs to understand that the opposition in a democracy can accelerate the growth of the State by playing a proactive role. If it resorts to untimely agitations, it will retard growth process. The main opposition should show rare qualities of leadership.

By V RAMU SARMA

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