By K Raveendran
India needs a new culture of opposition politics. In a democracy, opposition is supposed to play the role of a corrective role in the conduct of governance. ‘Corrective’ implies that it has to constructively intervene to correct the course. But unfortunately, opposition now means blind opposition to whatever the government or the ruling party does. Opposition now means a certain antagonism bordering on hatred.
It is, however, heartening to see that some of the younger elements in Congress are showing the courage to express their support to certain actions of the government that they feel are good and in national interest, irrespective of the stand taken by their party on those issues. So we have had Jyotiraditya Scindia supporting the abrogation of the special status to Jammu & Kashmir, saying it was long overdue.
His stand raised eyebrows in the party, including those of Ghulam Nabi Azad, who took a strident position on the issue and perhaps went a step further than his own party, which at one point of time seemed to be thoroughly confused and lost for direction. Family man Deepender Hooda joined him and expressed himself openly in support of the Modi government’s daring move. Similarly, former minister Jitin Prasada backed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for stricter enforcement of population control measures, although Congress considers this as a highly sensitive issue, directed against the minorities.
The latest in the series is former Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora, who hailed the Modi-Trump show Howdy Modi at Houston as ‘a momentous first for India’s soft power diplomacy’. He was perhaps reflecting on father Murali Deora, who in his lifetime was a big supporter of robust Indo-American relations. Milind also tweeted that his friends in the US acknowledge India’s leadership in the 21st century.
His tweet drew unexpected support from the Prime Minister, who thanked Milind and spoke fondly of ‘his friend’ Murali Deora, who he said would have been happy to see the boost in the relations between India and the United States.
Milind’s gesture, however, did not go down well with his party leadership, with some of the leaders even suspecting that it may be a prelude to his declaring his loyalty to the saffron party. The Mumbai Congress chief had earlier resigned from his position, owning moral responsibility for the serious drubbing his party received in the Lok Sabha elections.
He has given a befitting reply to his critics, saying he is ‘the son of his father’ and that he would ‘remain bipartisan when it comes to issues of national interest and foreign policy. ’I will not compromise on my core beliefs even though politics continues to become increasingly uncharitable and partisan,” he declared.
It is good to see that he has shown the courage to stand up to his detractors in the party. Fellow Congressman Shashi Tharoor, who had backed Jairam Ramesh, another maverick in the party, who had suggested that ‘demonising’ Modi for everything that he does will do no good to Congress and that Prime Minister deserve acknowledgment for his useful schemes, was, however, cowed down by his party unit of Kerala, whose leaders consider failure to utilise an opportunity to criticize Narendra Modi as the biggest sin a Congressman can commit. Tharoor nearly missed action for his ‘misconduct’ after he declared that he was perhaps more anti-Modi than anyone else in the state Congress.
With this at the back of his mind, Tharoor created a mess with a tweet on Howdy Modi, in which he reproduced a wrong picture of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi in Moscow to show that there was nothing great about the Modi-Trump show as Nehru had also evoked such spontaneous crowd response in the US. He was torn apart on the social media for the gaffe, which also had him spell Indira Gandhi as India Gandhi. For someone who has an obsession with language, there could not have been a bigger embarrassment for him. And the social media is ‘celebrating’ his plight.
The opposition needs to find a more acceptable role for itself. Blind anti-Modi-ism and the obsession to do everything to prevent BJP from gaining strength won’t take the opposition parties, particularly Congress, anywhere. They have to contribute constructively to the process of governance and that is possible even as an opposition. For that Congress and the other opposition parties need to come out of their compulsive death wish and be more positive in their approach. (IPA Service)