Shankersinh Vaghela: India and Gujarat are still reeling under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown imposed by the government to contain the spread of the virus. The country witnessed never seen before circumstances amid the lockdown. It was a perfect opportunity for both the ruling and Opposition parties to understand the ground realities of the country and help the people in need.
Instead of helping the poor and the migrants by taking the Opposition into confidence, the Union government resorted to theatrics and fooling the people. The arrest of Opposition leaders who were out on the streets to help people and the use of police force on them ensured that Opposition parties and their supporters will not come forward.
In situations like these, the constructive role of the Opposition is of paramount importance. The opposition is not only supposed to raise political issues, but it should also draw the attention of the government towards other important issues affecting the country. It should suggest the government on measures that can be taken to combat the pandemic and what experts are suggesting, how to rescue and revive the economy, how to safeguard the country from recession, etc. Whether to accept the suggestions or not is a prerogative of the government. However, what is alarming is that the BJP government has made the Opposition’s role meaningless.
The incumbent government has developed a practice of ignoring the Opposition on all issues and has created an image that the Opposition is useless and it has no existence. Due to this dictatorial mentality, the Opposition appears as a handicapped entity. The Opposition parties are active at the state and national levels. However, their role is only recognised when the government accepts their impact.
If the government is not ready to listen to what the Opposition has to say or accept its suggestions, then its existence or non-existence does not make any big difference. The government is always taking measures and policy decisions that are opposed by the Opposition. In fact, if the Opposition suggests some good measures as well, the ruling party ignores them fearing that is the measures result in something good, people will praise its opponents.
It is because of this narrow-mindedness of the BJP government that has rendered the Opposition meaningless. The ruling party must understand that tomorrow the Opposition may come to power and therefore, they should never underestimate its importance. However, the ruling party is busy in decimating the existence of the Opposition parties. In fact, BJP does not shy away from horse trading to topple governments in various states so that it can form its own government there. Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and Goa are examples of the same.
This policy of the government might help it in breaking the unity of the Opposition parties, but people are watching this dirty politics of the BJP and it will lead to polarisation of votes. Voters may then decide that it is time to decimate the saffron party in such a way that it holds no more power to buy or sell. And if citizens unite to teach the BJP a lesson, then they will emerge as the biggest opposition and their combined might may show the door to BJP both at the Centre and the state.
(The writer is a former chief minister of Gujarat and is in active politcs for the last 50 years. The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Gujarat Exclusive.)