Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari on issues related to the shape of this unity in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and how much power it can show against the “invincible image” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Centre. language questions and their answers by Sompal Singh Shastri, a Union minister in the Vajpayee government and a member of the erstwhile Planning Commission:
Question: After Nitish Kumar parted ways with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), as if the ‘opposition unity’ had a lifeline. Telangana Chief Minister KCR visited Bihar and met him and tried to unite the opposition. How do you see this political evolution?
Answer: Right now there is only talk of opposition unity. It’s too far-fetched right now. The party in the center has a kind of institutional character. Even if it has only one person at its center… it has its own set of political and so-called cultural organizations. There’s a whole range and he’s working all the time in the whole field and pushing his agenda forward. They also have power and other kinds of resources in abundance, while the opposition is scattered. The biggest drawback of the opposition is that there is no institutional form of any party participating in it from east to west and north to south, and no one has more credibility. They are all familyists or “one man army”. The flip side is that they don’t have a common minimum program nor does everyone agree on leadership. Some would have made a federal structure by sitting among themselves and considering someone as a leader, but that too is a long way off. I see no hope in opposition unity.
Question: When you see no hope of opposition unity, does it mean Modi’s return is certain in 2024?
Answer: Hope is not visible because people see no options. I am critical of many things in the BJP. The British ruled the country for so long in the name of caste, sect, region and language. Today the same thing happens and this is the concern. But criticism cannot be answered with criticism. What would you replace it with? You have no politics, no choice, no organization. So what to expect? If this situation persists, I see no hope that there is an alternative?
Question: If all the regional anti-BJP parties unite and get the support of the Congress, do you see any option for the Congress to fight for its existence?
Answer: This is a hypothetical scenario and it is like hoping against expectation. Yes, it is necessary that in the politics of the center, only twice from the southern states he becomes the prime minister for a short time. One was Narasimha Rao and the other was HD Deve Gowda. There is a feeling in the southern states that there is no strong leader to represent them at the Centre. KCR is in this effort and in a sense Stalin is. But there is another problem that the BJP has started filling the space of opposition parties there because the local alternatives are weakening. If the BJP gets stronger in the opposition and the local alternative parties are unable to stop it, then the BJP may succeed in making up for the potential loss in North India from the South. As far as the struggle for existence is concerned, no opposition party is fighting this battle. Everyone is sitting at home just wishing to save their existence. There is no opposition on the field. They are not fighting a battle but daydreaming that whenever there is an anti-BJP atmosphere in the country due to inflation, unemployment or other issues, the sneeze of their destiny breaks. Congress is an all India party but its top is paralyzed. So where do they fight?
Question: Do you see issues like inflation, unemployment, the state of the economy, farmers’ concerns also becoming secondary?
Answer: The democratic system in India has become strong and stable compared to other countries of the world, but it still has flaws. It is the drawback of our democracy when the common man casts his vote by caste, creed and language while casting his vote, bypassing the difficulties involved in meeting the minimum requirements of life protection, security and economic prosperity. The downside is that people don’t vote on real issues. At that time issues like caste, creed become dominant. There was a peasant movement in the country, too big but what happened as a result is before us all.
Question: When this is the position of the opposition, what future do you see for the country?
Answer: We must understand it this way. The family is the minimum unit of society. If there is no right purpose and common program and culture, there is even chaos and disruption. Politics is the biggest form of this. Under the current circumstances, I see no sign of anything happening. One is expected to have a federal party at the central level in which it tries to coordinate with other regional parties, not interfere in local affairs, guide them and resolve disputes, and not impose on anyone from above. If that happens, something will happen. Currently, no opposition party is fighting this battle. Everyone is determined to commit suicide.