Indian Opposition Parties Lack Plan to Counter Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

In the blame game between Narendra Modi and the opposition parties, people of India are confused. They want to know the outcome of opposition protests.

By Rakesh Raman

Rakesh Raman
Rakesh Raman

Despite their vigorous protests, the opposition political parties in India have failed miserably to unnerve Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is ruling the country with absolute authority.

Among his various authoritarian decisions, Modi had demonetized currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 on November 8 without following any democratic norms.

Nobel laureate and world’s top economist Professor Amartya Sen says Modi’s demonetization decision has showed authoritarian nature of the Indian government.

Similarly, former Prime Minister of India and leading economist Dr. Manmohan Singh said in India’s parliament that Modi’s demonetization scheme is a case of organized loot and legalized plunder.

He reminded Modi of the unfortunate deaths that have already taken place in India because Modi government is not allowing people to withdraw their own money from banks.

Currency Crisis

But such critical comments could not deter Modi. He said that removing the old notes from the market will help check corruption, while there is no link between banned notes and corruption, which is in fact increasing after demonetization.

Common people and opposition parties in India are up in arms against the government because the decision to stop the circulation of currency is causing severe hardships to commoners.

This war-like situation is causing deaths of innocent people who keep standing in queues even in harsh weather with the hope to get their old currency exchanged from banks.

Modi had said that the situation will get normal by December 30, but there is no respite for people as the currency crisis persists.

Protests Against Modi

Now the opposition parties have decided to intensify their protests against Modi and his government. The main opposition party Congress, for example, has decided to launch a nationwide movement beginning Sunday (January 1, 2017).

According to Congress, the protest is supposed to expose the biggest scam of independent India – which is demonetization decision of Modi. Including a slew of activities, the campaign will run throughout the month of January.

Similarly, in order to dethrone Modi, Trinamool Congress leader and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced a state-wide campaign Modi Hatao Desh Bachao. The eight-day campaign was scheduled to begin Sunday (January 1), coinciding with the foundation day of Trinamool Congress.

Referring to demonetization, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) also urges people to “unite and struggle for an alternative to Modi government’s authoritarianism and attacks on people’s economic rights.”

Earlier, the opposition parties in Parliament had observed November 28 as an All India Protest Day – Akrosh Divas – against Modi government’s harsh decisions including demonetization.

Last month, major opposition parties also submitted a memorandum to the President of India Pranab Mukherjee informing him that the Modi government did not allow the parliament to function, as a result of which critical issues such as demonetization could not be discussed.

No Impact

But all these agitations and uproar against Modi have failed to have any impact on him. Rather, he has emerged stronger after each protest. With a total control on the media (most media organizations and journalists are dishonest in India), Modi is blaming opposition leaders, saying that they have ganged up against his drive to weed out corruption from the country.

Without substantiating his claims, Modi is fully leveraging the Indian media to repeatedly say that the entire country is supporting his policies including the demonetization scheme.

In this blame game between Modi and the opposition parties, people of India are confused. They want to know the outcome of opposition protests.

Can these protests help people get relief from the increasing hardships in the country? Can they put an end to the kleptocracy that is destroying the country? Can these protests help dethrone Modi? The answer to all these questions is: No.

Weak Communications

As these protests are shallow and directionless, they are not targeting any result. Among the main reasons for the failure of opposition campaigns is the defective communications that they deliver. Although most political parties operate with huge resources, they fail to hire and deploy the right skills to design their communication strategies.

The overall content of their communications, including language and messages, is flawed. As their communications are not making any impact on the target audience, it appears that the opposition parties are trying to sell dog food to cat owners.

Obviously, Modi has completely ignored them. In his every speech – he is making plenty of them these days – Modi is saying that he is doing every thing for the benefit of poor and middle-class people of the country. Opposition parties have completely failed to counter this fact in their public messages.

Since most of the voters in India are poor and uneducated, they will blindly trust Modi. In order to woo the voters, Modi’s rhetoric also gets louder before every election in Indian states. He is expected to use the same ploy before the Lok Sabha election of 2019.

And if opposition parties didn’t get their act together, India will soon be a one-party state ruled by Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Do you agree?

By Rakesh Raman, who is a government award-winning journalist and social scientist. You also can visit the REAL VOTER – Politics in India Information Center that he manages.

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Rakesh Raman