The BJP is looking forward to its first electoral test in Maharashtra and Haryana after its spectacular victory in general elections in May. And the party has already pressed its vaunted electoral machinery into service in the two states. In Maharashtra, Congress and Sharad Pawar headed NCP have forged an alliance to take on the powerful BJP-Shiv Sena combine. However, even before the campaigning goes ahead for the polls, Pawar has become the target of a probe for his alleged involvement into Rs 25000 crore bank scam. Given the BJP’s prevailing domination of the country’s political landscape, it looks unlikely that the opposition will fare any better than the last time. Ditto for Haryana, where the BJP is a favourite to retain power. The party’s political pitch has also been strengthened by the revocation of Article 370 which enjoys near endemic support in the rest of country.
These are not good times for the country’s opposition. True, last year the Congress performance in all-important states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chattisgarh did give the opposition some hope. But the landslide BJP victory in general polls not only brought Hindutva back to the centre stage but also inflicted a big setback to the temporary secular regeneration. The fact is that India’s secular opposition is still in tatters. There is still no pan-India leader who can match up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma.
The opposition will have to make more substantive move to get together in the months to come to offer a more credible political challenge to the BJP. It would be an uphill task for the opposition. The BJP in its current avatar will not only need the opposition unity but also an alternative ideological narrative. The saffron party offers a deft blend of ideology and development rhetoric. It has Modi as an overarching leader. And considering its electoral machinery it has become all-encompassing. And when all else fails, the BJP can always raise Kashmir and Pakistan issues to try and forge a monolithic Hindu vote bank. The strategy has been a factor in the rise of BJP as a national party, up from two seats in 1984 polls. Things can still turn around for the opposition and also for India if the opposition unites. A larger combination at the national level can halt the BJP’s march
If anything, the outcome of general elections yet again underlines the invincible prowess the BJP has gained in its event management style of politics. If the opposition fails to gets its act together, it would offer a walkover to the BJP in Maharashtra and Haryana.