Opposition Unity and Politics Will be Greatly Helped By A Common Program Based on Justice, Equality, Communal Harmony, Democracy and Environment Protection
India is passing through very difficult times. Partly this is a reflection of local factors and serious policy mistakes made in recent times, but partly this is reflection of overall difficult conditions at world level as well. While people are getting increasingly doubtful regarding the ability of the current regime to provide them immediate relief, there is even greater loss of faith regarding its ability to place the country firmly on the path of longer-term prosperity , sustainability and security.
However, at the same time, when people look around for alternatives political forces, they do not feel very confidant of the choice they can make. Of course there is no lack of opposition parties, but they too do not inspire the confidence of people very readily. One important reason of this is the absence of very clear alternative program of action with opposition forces which can inspire hope and commitment among people.
While several opposition leaders in India recognize the need for unity of various opposition parties, this is more in terms of electoral adjustments. These electoral adjustments on their own cannot generate much hope among people and cannot secure their enthusiastic mobilization.
On the other hand if this unity is formed on the basis of a common program based on justice, equality, peace, communal harmony, national integration, strengthening of various aspects of democracy and many-sided welfare of people, then this will give much more hope to people and create conducive conditions for their enthusiastic mobilization.
In the past there have been examples when several opposition parties have been able to present such programs before people, but this has generally happened at a time close to elections. So this appears more like something which has been done only for the sake of fighting elections .In the middle of other activities and work relating to elections the content of this program does not attract so much of close attention either. Quite often this reflects work done in a hurry. In such circumstances there is a tendency to somehow bring together some populist demands which have been attracting attention lately, and speak in very general terms regarding welfare of all sections. So a more broad and longer-term vision of what the country really needs is lacking, and the hurriedly drawn up program often fails to make an impact beyond election time.
On the other hand the impact and contribution of such a national-level program can be much more if is framed much before elections and reflects a genuine commitment to evolve a comprehensive program regarding the future path the nation should take. There should be more time for thinking, reflection and discussion so that leaders and activists of various parties truly believe in this program as their own program and take pride in taking this forward. They do not take up this program just before elections in a symbolic sort of way, but instead use election time to further strengthen the messages that they have been taking among people already for several months or even years.
In this way a vision of the path that India should take based on justice, equality, peace, communal harmony, democracy and environment protection can emerge strongly among a large number of people and they develop an understanding of how this can create a clearly a much better country and how they themselves can contribute to this.
Hence various opposition parties should give much more attention to reaching agreement on a common program and then working with cooperation on this basis. This will enable them to be much better prepared at the time of elections, and to stand on much firm ground as a part of a united opposition with clear thinking. Clearly this is a much stronger approach instead of merely giving some catchy slogans to their members and merely offering sporadic criticism of the government in terms of its various actions from time to time.
Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include When Two Streams Met ( freedom movement) and its larger Hindi version Azadi ke Deewanon Ki Dastaan.