THE OPPOSITION DILEMMA
Though the BJP is on the way down, the opposition is not yet ready to form a workable majority to replace it. There are two main reasons for it. (1) The only all India party in the opposition is the Congress that has become weaker than ever before (2) The regional parties, some of which are in power in states, have their individual agenda and are not ready to shed their identity to come to a common platform.
As for the Congress, its main weakness is its clinging to the dynasty. The present inheritor, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, is no Indira Gandhi who had the courage and tenacity that has become history. She split Pakistan into two to disprove that religion cannot be the basis of the nation and blocked the formation of Khalistan out of Punjab by striking at the very heart of its nucleus in Amritsar. Her son Rajiv Gandhi had neither the experience nor the time to keep the party's stature as he was killed by Sri Lankan terrorists. The vacuum had to be filled by his reluctant Italian wife who showed cleverness not to become Prime Minister but virtually was by nominating her choice, the silent Manmohan Singh. Corruption as an outcome of coalition compulsions cost the government when the BJP came to power with an absolute majority in 2014 led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Today the all-India opposition, the Congress, is only its original shadow and has to grow into substance to retake power.
However that hope is dim for Congress under the presidentship of Rahul Gandhi. He has yet to prove his consistency in leadership though has shown spurts of dynamism as in the Gujarat and Karnataka state elections which brought positive results. The real power in the Congress still is with the ailing Sonia Gandhi and she, in her eagerness to maintain the dynastic continuity, is not allowing better young leaders to come to the front to lead the party. Whether Rahul will be able to carry out the consolidation of opposition within a year left to the General elections has to be seen.
As for the other opposition parties, though they are powerful in their own states, they have no all-India stature. As of now, they are a force that can defeat Modi's BJP if they unite. Will they be able to shed their regionalism for the sake of national goals such as secularism and the spirit of the Constitution?
The contention that the prevent opposition parties can form a coalition after the elections may not work, though it could in Karnataka. But even in that state, if there was a pre-poll coalition, all the suspense during the formation of the Congress-JDS government could have been avoided. So, the way for opposition success is to have a common agenda and a common candidate.