Has the Note Ban Inadvertently United the Opposition?
Note ban has started the process of uniting the opposition. (Photo: Rhythum Seth/<b>The Quint</b>)
Note ban has started the process of uniting the opposition. (Photo: Rhythum Seth/The Quint)

Has the Note Ban Inadvertently United the Opposition?

Due to demonetisation, there has been uproar in the Parliament, protests on the roads, poor workers have been suffering, and rural areas have been badly affected. There has been utter chaos following this sudden move and still, the government is not doing much to bring the situation under control.

Three arguments are being given by the government in defence of the move: firstly that there will be problems initially but later it’ll work for the greater good. Secondly, strict action had to be taken to curb black money. Thirdly, the note ban has been shown relative to the sacrifices given by the soldiers on the border. Therefore, the country will have to take the trouble to get rid of the corruption.

Modi’s Moral Pretense

Modi has suddenly covered himself with a moral pretense. The opposition has stood united against the Modi government after the demonetisation announcement. This is the first time in two and a half years that the opposition has got a substantial reason to protest against the government. Nitish Kumar is the only politician who is supporting the note ban move. Looks like new friendships and equations are emerging between Nitish Kumar and the BJP government.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, Lalu Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal, the left party, Sharad Pawar, and the parties belonging to the South have all become one, except Nitish Kumar. Even Shiv Sena, who is an ally of BJP, is openly criticising the move.

Congress has become quite active post the government’s decision, and have their agenda straight. Rahul Gandhi called for ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’ to hold protests over demonetisation and the opposition parties demanded ‘Bharat bandh’.

Opposition looks strong again like the early days. There was a time when the country’s politics was dominated by the Congress. The Centre and most of the states had Congress in power. Experts like Rajni Kothari used to call it the Congress system. It was impossible to defeat the Congress.

United Despite Difference in Ideologies

The opposition’s stance now is like it was during the Ram Manohar Lohia’s time — shattered. Different states have different views. However, the ideologies are very weak. Instead of representing ideologies, parties have become private limited companies. Selfish motives have become more important than ideologies. It will take time for the Congress to bring out leaders like Lohia and JP Narayan.

There is one more important difference; Congress used to accommodate conflicting views, but BJP does not allow it. Its range and attractions are limited. So, the opposition does face a big challenge here, but it is not unimaginable.

But now it would be wrong to call it a BJP system. We can’t call BJP a national party at the moment. BJP is yet to reach the Southern and North-Eastern states. Congress’ weakness is paving the way for the BJP. But these are speculations of the future. In reality, the opposition faces the problem of fascism.

Congress, even with all its democratic traditions, was transformed into a dictatorship in the 1970s. The fear of fascism is what is bringing the opposition together on one stage.

Note ban has started the process of uniting the opposition. After the government of Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand were dismissed without cause, the Opposition had warned of a future crisis. Now the Opposition has understood that they can’t tackle the BJP without coming together.

The Roadblock for the Opposition in Uniting Against the BJP

There are four problems that the Opposition would face in uniting against the BJP. Firstly, except Congress and AAP, all other parties have formed coalitions with the BJP in the past. Even the left parties had allied with the BJP during the anti-Congress phase in India. Therefore, one can’t see the same kind of hate for BJP like there was against the Congress.

Secondly, most opposition parties these days are clueless. So, the longevity of the Opposition’s unity is questionable. Selfish interests might lead a lot of these parties to change sides.

Third, the lack of a larger-than-life personality whom everyone would listen to is creating a problem for the parties to come together.

Finally, different Opposition parties are pitted against each other in different states.

Parties Are Fighting Each Other at State-Level

It’s Mamata’s TMC against the Left in West Bengal, Mulayam versus Mayawati in UP and Karunanidhi against Jayalalitha. In Odisha, Congress and the Biju Janata Dal are against each other. In such a situation, it is hard to say when the parties will come together or if they will come together at all.

This is a huge advantage for the BJP, but one has to wait until the time the BJP would enjoy this privilege. But there is no denying that demonetisation has brought the Opposition parties together.

(The writer is an author and spokesperson of AAP. He can be reached at @ashutosh83B. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit the Subscribe button.)

Follow our India section for more stories.