Does Opposition mean merely ‘being opposite’?
The role of an Opposition is very important in a democracy, as it corrects the government, if the decision taken by the ruling party is not in favour of the people. However, a big confusion has been created regarding the role of the Opposition in recent times. But the Congress led opposition has confounded this confusion. In the name of correcting the government, even some welcome decisions taken by the Modi government have been opposed.
Criminalising the most heinous practice of triple talaq was a big gender justice by the Modi government. Because, through ‘triple talaq’, husband of a Muslim woman could divorce her wife by saying the word “talaq” thrice in any form, including email or text message. Therefore, any kind of woman empowerment was worthless as long as the sword of Damocles was hanging on the head of Muslim women in the form of triple talaq. But the Congress opposed this Bill. However, one should not forget that Rajiv Gandhi himself wanted to abolish the practice of triple talaq, but he was forced by orthodox Islamists to take back his decision.
At present, the whole world is suffering from COVID-19 pandemic, which has also harmed India economically. The whole world is suffering because of the imposition of lockdown as no vaccine has been found yet to tackle this pandemic. India too imposed lockdown to contain the spread of this virus as India has also no other option to follow. This decision of the government was appreciated by everyone across the globe, even WHO too appreciated India for this quick decision. The main motto of imposition of nationwide lockdown was to stop the movement of the people. And it was impossible to contain the spread of this virus without temporally suspension of train services. However, when some migrant workers came on to the road to return to their native villages, losing no political opportunity, the Congress announced free rail tickets for the migrant workers. Even Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is aspiring to gain lost political ground in Uttar Pradesh, started doing ‘Bus’ politics. Owing to this kind of politics, the government was forced to announce commencement of train services. As a result of this, many villages in UP, Bihar and other states have become Covid-19 hotspots. Here, it is worth mentioning that there were no cases in several districts of these states. But, the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing as migrant workers are returning to their hometown. Ironically, now Rahul Gandhi says that the lockdown has failed. Now the question arises: What was your role as an opposition. Was it to make lockdown a failure? However, due to this lockdown, thousands of lives have been saved. It is important to mention that the Congress government in Maharashtra has not been able to contain the disease. But, Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are doing their own politics to make inroads in Uttar Pradesh. If you are a responsible opposition, all the states should matter for you. Why only UP? Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik are not even the ally of NDA, but they did not play politics on migrant workers’ issue. Even KCR offered free ration and security of migrant labourers in Telangana. Not only this, earlier all the opposition parties were demanding economic package from the government. When the government announced almost $267 billion economic package, the Congress called it a headline grabbing one. However, this package is far bigger than 2009 stimulus package, which was announced by the then Prime Minister Manamohan Singh government to survive the recession.
Earlier, this government got passed Citizenship Amendment Bill from both houses of Parliament. The legislation says that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered India on or before the 31st of December, 2014, due to religious persecution shall not be treated as illegal migrant. The Congress opposed this Bill and organised many protests to oppose this Bill. Congress’s intention was to grab minority votes in Delhi election, but, minority did vote for AAP, not for the Congress. However, it is worth mentioning that in 2003, speaking in Rajya Sabha, Dr Manmohan Singh, the then Leader of Opposition, had asked for granting citizenship to minorities, who were facing persecution in neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The same thing we saw in Rafale deal. The Congress dragged the government on this issue to the court and called it a scam. Even Rahul Gandhi called PM Modi a ‘chor’. However, the Supreme Court did not find anything wrong in this deal and gave a clean-chit to the government. The fact is that the Congress wanted to use the Rafale matter to garner votes in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. And surprisingly, this was the same Congress that wanted Rafale, but failed to negotiate with France. But the Narendra Modi government did it.
In the wake of Pulwama terror attack, when India Air Force bombed terrorist camps in Balakot, Pakistan, the Congress leaders such as Kapil Sibal, Digvijay Singh and Sam Pitroda questioned the air strikes. Kapil Sibal, in his tweet, quoted international media and said that New York Times, London-based Jane’s Information Group, Washinton Post, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and Reuters are reporting no proof of militant losses at Balakot. Are they pro-Pakistan? You (Modi) are guilty of politicising terror. Digvijay Singh asked the government to present evidence of the Indian Air Force’s strike. “I am not questioning the recent IAF action against Pakistan-based terrorist camps. But pictures of any incident in open space can be accessed through satellite technology. So we should also give evidence, the way the United States government presented evidence of Osama bin Laden’s killing before the world,” he said. Sam Pitroda, the Indian Overseas Congress chief, in an interview to ANI said, “I would like to know more as I have read in New York Times and other newspapers, what did we really attack, we really killed 300 people?”
However, it is important to mention that Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, former spokesperson of Pakistan Army, had himself conceded that Indian Air force did bomb Balakot.
Having said this, it is apt to mention that in a democracy, an Opposition is as important as a government. A government succeeds because of a good Opposition and also fails because of a bad Opposition. Now, it is up to the Congress as to where it wants to stand. Does the Congress want to be a good Opposition, or a bad one?
By Ravi Mishra