DC Edit | Opp. INDIA bloc yet to get its act together

Finally, the INDIA bloc has got its optics right. Almost a year after its formation and hardly a few weeks away from the Lok Sabha elections, the Opposition alliance held its first rally in Patna on Sunday where several senior leaders of its partners came on a single platform and addressed a massive rally. And the main actors on the stage, RJD leaders Lalu Prasad Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav as well as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi trained their guns on what they called the divisive and hate politics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The rally was a reflection of the paradoxes the alliance represents. Bihar chief minister and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar was the prime mover of the Opposition unit efforts against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Mr Modi but Mr Kumar is now a part of the ruling alliance and is busy assuring the Prime Minister that he has no plans to defect again. And the rally was held at Patna, the home ground of RJD; similar ones planned in states where Congress is the leading force had to be abandoned due to various reasons. The Congress claims it is in pole position in the alliance but is yet to demonstrate the organisational capability to plan and execute such a major initiative. It takes the regional chieftains to organise such events.

It’s time INDIA bloc overcame the teething troubles and got its act together for the all-important show. Its opponent has got its grand narratives, the right script and the seasoned actors ready whereas the Opposition still has not even got the one line of its story done. The Congress which trained all its energies first on the Assembly elections in five states in October-November and now on the Bharat Nyay Jodo Yatra led by Mr Gandhi has failed to recognise the importance of the timeline it will have to follow while taking on a well-prepared and well-oiled machine called the BJP.

It is true that the key partners of the alliance have either finalised or in the process of finalising seat-sharing in key states including Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Punjab. This will help the bloc present itself as a cohesive force. But it is hardly sufficient that a show of unity is presented before the people; it must have a story to tell the people why they should prefer the Opposition instead of allowing Mr Modi score a hat-trick in an all-important election.

A proper alternative narrative is still missing. Data as well as ground realities may present a grim picture of joblessness in the country but they only get reflected in an occasional speech of either Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge or Mr Gandhi; there has been no concerted effort to pit the realities against the NDA’s promises. Similar are the promises the NDA and its government had made to the farming community, including the one to double their income by 2022.

If the alliance is keen on giving the NDA a tough fight, then it should sit down and prepare a common minimum programme with credible options. They know fully well how important optics is in politics. But they also know that a known enemy is better than a new friend. It is time the INDIA bloc realised it.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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