The heavy blow to the concept of Opposition unity itself with the Janata Dal (United) deciding to back Ram Nath Kovind, NDA’s presidential candidate, is not a trivial matter.
Besides the NDA allies, when the regional parties like the BJD, TDP, TRS and PDP as well announced their support to Kovind, the victory of the RSS nominee seemed certain. Even if the remaining parties reached a consensus on any candidate, the chances of victory were dim. Nitish Kumar, the Janata Dal (U) leader who led the anti-BJP grand alliance and took initiatives to emphasize the same idea at the national level, shattered the hope of utilizing this as an opportunity to openly express the collective opposition of all secular parties against a committed RSS worker getting elected to the country’s supreme position. That the NDA candidate is a Dalit or that he has been the Governor of Bihar aren’t any excuses sufficient enough to convince anyone. Firstly, whether the candidate is a Dalit, Adivasi or even someone belonging to the minority community, all considerations are rendered irrelevant if his commitment isn’t towards a secular democracy, the basic principle of the Constitution.
Kovind has been an ardent supporter of the RSS since his student days and later proved his loyalty towards the Sangh Parivar as the BJP Scheduled Caste Morcha chief and MP. He won’t be able think beyond the periphery of extreme Hindutwa. This Dalit leader went on a record overtly demanding not to give upper-class benefits to Dalits who underwent religious conversion. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Sangh Parivar had deployed Dalits during the infamous 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat. Said that, no secular party could decide to back Kovind only because he belongs to a Dalit community. Secondly, Nitish Kumar should be clarifying of what use it would be, if Kovind who hails from Uttar Pradesh, serves in the post of Bihar Governor as a representative of Modi government. Has he adopted a favourable approach towards the secular government led by Nitish Kumar?
Nitish Kumar is trying to fool the country and the people of Bihar with such lame excuses in order to conceal the real intentions. All are aware that Kumar who had long ruled the state along with the BJP, cut off links with the saffron party and took steps to form the grand alliance with RJD and the Congress when the elections approached, only due to the strong conviction about losing the Muslim-Dalit votes. When the alliance challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and emerged victorious beating the BJP, Nitish Kumar’s party only came second. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD secured the highest number of seats. However, being a senior leader and someone who initiated the alliance, RJD allowed Nitish Kumar to serve as the Chief Minister. There have been indicators for some time that the Bihar model, which inspired the secular society of the country as a whole, is but going to be shattered.
Nitish Kumar who had decided to pin his hopes on the saffron brigade if he is ever compelled to step down from the Chief Minister post following the intensifying RJD-JDU clashes, could be expected to plan his tactics. Kumar who once opposed Modi entering Bihar, paid a visit to the latter in Delhi and changed sides by supporting NDA’s presidential nominee. Putting these factors together, one could clearly comprehend the reality. Beyond power and vested interests, majority of the political parties that claim themselves to be secular as well as the leaders, lack commitment. Even during these times of skepticism, when the hardcore Hindutwa forces led by Amit Shah come up with planned tactics with the support of imperialistic and corporate powers of the world to ‘transform’ the republic, isn’t it pointless to expect positive things from secular parties or leaders with narrow mentality? Amit Shah very well knows how to tempt such people.
In these circumstances, expecting Opposition unity and a secular alliance seems futile. In India, there is no strong Opposition party at present. There are only several groups and collectives that lack ideological and theoretical foundation, those who are already trapped and others, waited to be trapped. Another instance is the change of side by senior socialist leader Mulayam Singh Yadav. Rahul Gandhi led Indian National Congress seems to be bothered only about the 2024 elections. Neglecting the reality that’s soon to approach, the general election in 2019, is itself perilous.