Opinion: Rahul Gandhi emerging as face of Opposition

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is emerging as the Face of the Opposition. This assumes significance, as it serves to repudiate all talk of lack of Opposition Unity. Rahul Gandhi has moved decisively to lead the Opposition charge against the Modi Government.

Earlier, other Opposition leaders used to prefer meeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Now, Rahul Gandhi is assuming the role, signaling that he has taken effective charge. There is a definite change now. Rahul Gandhi has built bridges with Opposition leaders. He is consulting them and interacting with them, with a view to take them along. Recently, Rahul Gandhi had taken the initiative to invite the Opposition leaders over breakfast, with the sole purpose of forging Opposition Unity.

In all, 15 parties took part in the meeting. Apart from the Congress, the other like-minded parties that participated in the meeting included DMK, NCP, Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, CPM, CPI, RSP, IUML, Kerala Congress (M), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, National Conference, Trinamool Congress and LJD. This development also goes to prove that Opposition Front is possible only under the aegis of the Congress. In the recent meeting, only BSP and AAP, both known B Teams of the BJP, did not attend.

All the others, including NCP of Sharad Pawar, TMC of Mamata Banerjee and SP of Akhilesh Yadav, attended the meeting. This larger Opposition Unity at the national level became possible, despite the Congress not having Alliance with Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and with Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh. The development assumes significance in the backdrop of Media speculation over Sharad Pawar or Mamata Banerjee taking over leadership of the Opposition.

In a parliamentary democracy, it is the principal Opposition party that emerges in leadership role: and not the regional or the small parties. Since 1989, the Congress has been, and continues to be, the single-largest party outside the BJP-led NDA formation. In 1989, Congress won 197, when the Left joined hands with the BJP, in order to prop up the National Front Government of V P Singh; in 1991, it won 232; in 1996, 146; in 1998, 145; in 1999, 113; in 2004, 145; in 2009, 202; in 2014, 44; and in 2019, 52.

Even at its worst-ever performance, the Congress continues to be the single-largest party in the Opposition. No other party can stake claim to lead the Opposition. There are several States where the Congress alone is the principal contender against the BJP. No other third party has any base in those States. Such States include Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and to a large extent, Karnataka, as the JD (S) influence is now reduced to some pockets. Rahul Gandhi has shown that there is a change in his style and a new spring in his step.

The other day, Rahul Gandhi drove a tractor to Parliament to highlight Farmers Issue. Then, he peddled on bicycle to Parliament, to protest against fuel prices hike. The Modi Government has indeed handed out a host of emotive issues to the Opposition Congress on a platter. Farmers Issue, involving the plight of the Annadata, out on the streets, seeking rollback of three Black Laws on Farmers, has struck a chord among the poor and vulnerable sections of society.

Skyrocketing prices of essential commodities like edible oil, dal, cooking gas has left womenfolk high and dry. No household in the country is left untouched by the spectre of price rise, every housewife is agitated. Petrol prices soaring beyond Rs 100 has left the common man worried over basic transportation to office and back home. Diesel prices hike has a cascading effect on the general price situation that is fleecing the common man.15:24National Security is at the heart of the Pegasus Scandal.

Not only the Mobile phones of Union IT Minister Ashwani Vaishnav, former Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, Opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, election strategist Prashant Kishore and a host of journalists were hacked, but the Army and External Intelligence Agency, RAW, were also on the hackers list. The Pegasus Scandal has given the Opposition a rallying point and exposed the Achilles Heel of the Modi Government.

This Monsoon Session of Parliament has been successfully infused with demands for the Modi Government to come clean on whether it bought the Spyware and against whom it was used. These simple-sounding questions have really baffled the Modi Government. On the other hand, the Modi Government’s dismissal of the snooping as a “non-issue” has lacked any weightage and the explanations it has offered so far have not convinced anyone. With downslide in Narendra Modi-Amit Shah Magic Spell, this new political development may well set off the alarm bells in the ruling BJP.