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Insight Delhi

Seculars Unite, #India Calling

With victory in Jharkhand and a strong show in Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP is well on its way to realization of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s quest for absolute power. The opposition, especially the erstwhile ruling party, the Congress party, is nowhere to be seen. At least, the so-called secular forces have failed to put their act together, to put up any sort of fight.

BJP’s substantial gains in the Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly elections have built upon the virtual clean sweep of the saffronite forces in the October elections to the Haryana and Maharashtra Assembly.

With the BJP, for the first time, having more members, over all, in the State Assemblies than the Congress party, the stage is set for the ruling party to gradually increase its presence in the Rajya Sabha, the Council of States, the upper house of Parliament. It is estimated that by the middle of 2016, the BJP will almost catch up with the Congress in terms of Rajya Sabha members. This will help the ruling coalition to carry forward its agenda unhindered. The BJP led coalition will then not face, or at least face to a lesser extent, the obstruction from the opposition seen in the Rajya Sabha in the winter session of Parliament, which concluded on December 23, 2014.

OPPOSITION IN DISARRAY

The question before the country today is – Will the secular forces regroup and put up a fight. The answer sadly is – No, they are in disarray. After combining for a short while for the bye-elections to the Bihar Assembly, earlier in 2014 , they failed to come together and put up a joint fight against the BJP in the elections to the State Assemblies of Maharashtra and Haryana in October 2014, and later in Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

No doubt, there are tentative moves on the part of the so-called Janata Parivar to join forces again. But the consolidation is taking time to fructify. In any case, the constituents of the Janata Parivar have relevance only in some states mainly in northern India like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

The opposition cannot put up any worthwhile fight against the BJP unless the Congress party is a part of the unity moves.

CONGRESS SHY TO LEAD FROM THE FRONT

The main problem in putting up a united fight against the Modi led saffronite forces is the disarray in the Congress party. Even after getting its worst ever tally in national elections in the Lok Sabha polls, 2014, the Congress party is showing no signs of any rear-guard action to rally its forces and lead the opposition. The Congress mood is marked by lethargy, with its leaders appearing to be working only part-time for the party. This appears to be true of all its leaders including vice president Rahul Gandhi, who appears to be afraid of leading from the front. His not taking the leadership of the party in Parliament is a case in point.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, once considered close to Rahul Gandhi, has suggested that Rahul Gandhi should take up the reins of the party to rev up its revival. This would be a welcome step especially in view of the apparent poor health of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Also, the Congress party needs to lead from the front the moves to forge a united front of secular forces rather than wait for other parties to take the initiative. Only thus will the secular forces be able to derail the Modi agenda and quest for absolute power and stop the right wing communal forces in their tracks.

SECULAR UNITY NEEDED TO FIGHT MODI AGENDA

No body needs to have any doubt what the real agenda of the Modi brigade is. The BJP came to power riding on Modi’s alleged development agenda and perceived inaction of the Manmohan Singh led United Progressive Alliance, UPA, government on checking corruption.

So far as the development agenda is concerned, the Narendra Modi government has not unveiled any new economic policies so far, and has been merely working on the UPA government economic platform.

But the real agenda of the Modi dispensation becomes clear from the Prime Minister’s deafening silence on a plethora of moves by rabble-rousing elements to vitiate the communal atmosphere.

India needs secular unity to counter such forces effectively.

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