Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee
The prospect of a joint opposition platform to take on the dominant Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2024 general elections was long considered a distant dream. In recent years, many opposition leaders talked about unity and the need to challenge the BJP with a formidable force, but repeated calls for unity were not visible on the ground. With one party or another distancing itself over self-protection and attacking Modi personally on a range of issues, the opposition seemed to have forgotten that Indians are definitely looking for an alternative to the BJP after its failure on many fronts.
However, a golden opportunity arose when Rahul Gandhi, the Congress party leader, was convicted and disqualified. Even those parties who openly dismiss Congress, such as the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), rallied behind Congress and participated in the protests. For the first time in years, India’s splintered opposition is sinking its differences to take on Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi, which could extend to a substantial challenge in national elections due in 2024.
The situation in India is critical, and the opposition parties must remember that there is an urgent need for all parties to come together to fight the Modi government and BJP. The government has pushed the country into an all-encompassing crisis that impacts the economic, cultural and social spheres. The situation is further aggravated by the uneven political field created by electoral bonds that have enabled the BJP to amass unaccounted funds and indiscriminate use of the Central agencies.
Since Modi came to power in 2014, he has dominated Indian politics and trounced the divided opposition in two successive general elections. But BJP does not get a majority of the vote and could be in trouble if it comes up against a united opposition. However, the opposition needs to remember that people have already tested what PM Modi is after hearing his unbridled promises and incongruent deliveries for almost nine years in power. Yet, he continues to enjoy popular public support. The opposition needs to articulate what different offers they have if voted to power. How would they improve GDP growth, employment, prices, ease of living, ensure greater trust and brotherhood in communities, regions, religions, and develop strong relationships with neighbors? Their stand on the Old Pension Scheme is a definite plus. For the country’s sake, the opposition must unite to give a befitting fight against the Modi government.
The opposition parties need to understand that the Indian electorate wants to see a change from the status quo. The BJP government has failed on many fronts, including creating jobs, controlling inflation, and improving the economy. The opposition must come up with a compelling vision that resonates with the people’s aspirations and inspires confidence in their ability to deliver on their promises.
The unity shown by opposition parties in recent protests against the Modi government is an encouraging sign. However, they must translate this unity into a broader alliance that can take on the BJP in the 2024 general elections. The BJP has a massive election machine and access to vast financial resources. The opposition parties need to develop a cohesive strategy that can counter the BJP’s formidable electoral machine.
They must also reach out to voters beyond their traditional support bases. They need to communicate their vision to voters across the country, including those who may be disillusioned with the current government but have not yet found a reason to support the opposition. The opposition must demonstrate that they are a viable alternative to the BJP and that they can deliver on their promises. It remains to be seen if the Opposition can capitalize on this opportunity and make significant gains in the upcoming elections, but one thing is clear: the people of India are eager for change, and the Opposition must step up and deliver if they want to win their trust and support.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee