Opposition Unity Moves Gather Momentum, But Still work in Progress
Asia News Agency
The political discourse in India today, writes Shikha Mukerjee (senior journalist based in Kolkata) “is neither led nor dominated by Prime Minister Modi or the BJP. Parties which are ideologically opposed to the BJP, namely the Congress and some powerful regional parties, are shaping a different narrative and leading an alternative discourse….”
Opposition unity moves have gathered momentum although it remains work in progress. “Partners of the United Progressive Alliance and new friends like Nitish Kumar and K. Chandrashekhar Rao of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi find common cause in the social justice movement. The second national conference on social justice organised by M.K. Stalin of the DMK is an issue that unites all political parties, other than the BJP. Mr Kharge’s letter to Mr Modi demanding that the postponed Census of 2021 be immediately done and the numbers of the 2011 survey of caste status be immediately released all add up to a push to refresh a secular, inclusive and positive agenda as a priority issue that can well expand the political discourse into a demand for equality, rights and justice, and affirmative action to end all forms of discrimination.”
Putting social justice centre-stage
By seizing the lead on putting social justice centre-stage in politics, Mukerjee believes “the parties ideologically opposed to the BJP have unveiled an agenda that has the potential to obliterate the ever-deepening divide between religious communities and transform the politics of identity into a challenge to the BJP’s version that had till now dominated the discourse. By changing the terms on which identity politics can be discussed, the Congress and the anti-BJP Opposition has put Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the dock, for deferring the Census, dithering on the caste census and weakening the once powerful appeal by the BJP to the Hindu majority to mobilise……..
“How much of this change will be reflected in the May 10 Karnataka election is still uncertain, but it will have picked up sufficient momentum by the time the elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana come around at the end of the year.”
Although standing together in solidarity is reassuring for all political parties, Mukerjee emphasises “this sense of solidarity needs to be quickly transformed into a commitment to a common agenda of government of a potential Opposition alliance. Being anti-Modi or anti-BJP is not a winning proposition…….”