In the two and a half year tenure of Narendra Modi, the Opposition has got its best chance to take on his government. With no apparent major scam at national level and no major communal riot, as Opposition feared if Modi comes to power, demonitisation gave the much needed teeth to the shattered Congress. It appears the Congress and other parties are thinking that they will not get any other major issue to take on the Modi government before 2019. No wonder, the BJP’s claim that the ‘Opposition is running away from debate’ on currency withdrawal is finding more takers from the public. As people’s difficulties are easing following availability of new Rs 500 notes, the ongoing ruckus in the Parliament has threatened to be a counterproductive exercise for the so-called united Opposition.
While the Opposition is already exposed on its strategy of focussing only on the present difficulties of the historic ‘surgical strike’ on black money and counterfeit notes, it has not been consistent on its various claims. Some are criticising Modi’s mother being on the queue as a publicity stunt – little doubt it isn’t – Rahul Gandhi and Kejriwal were also seen in the queues in the bank. In an extreme, Rahul Gandhi accompanied by SPG personnel goes to the bank to exchange Rs 4000. And he says, ‘do you see any people with black money here… (which means) only common people are affected (by standing in the lines)’. Does he mean his is a common man too. Obviously, people with black money would not queue in the bank. They would depute someone, which Rahul can do as well. The Opposition is accusing the BJP of informing its ‘near and dear ones’ in advance so that they can turn their black money into white before the ‘surgical strike’. On the other hand, it is also claiming that PM Modi was dictatorial and did not consult even his cabinet colleagues! Finance minister Arun Jaitley admitted that only a few were privy to the move, which was taking shape for over past six-seven months.
Some Opposition parties like the Samajwadi Party went to the extent of proposing debate in the Parliament before taking such major decision. Even a common man can understand that the SP proposition is ludicrous. Let alone a debate in Parliament, if Modi announced the decision a few hours earlier, hundreds of crores of black money would have been legalised the same day! Nobody would have seen bags full of money thrown in garbage dumps, streams and rivers. In all, it seems the Opposition is fighting a lost game. The more it fought this battle, it is going to hurt its image further.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on November 26, 2016)