Eighty-four year old Yashwant Sinha was not the first choice of the opposition as its candidate for the presidency. He was not even the second or third. Nor did his party, the TMC, propose his name. Despite that, he has been positioning himself as the one chosen to fight the ‘evil’ ideology of a party that has been voted in by the majority of the Indian people. While positing the NDA candidate, Droupadi Murmu, as a ‘rubber stamp’, he and his supporters fail to realise how badly they have been outmaneuvered by PM Modi and his team. By selecting a woman politician with a long and unblemished record, who also happens to belong to a tribal community, deep divisions have been created in the opposition’s ranks. Had they put some thought to it, Margaret Alva would have been a much better choice, as she is a similarly accomplished woman from a minority community.
And if there have been rubber stamp presidents, they have all been Congress choices – with all that talk about ‘restraining the excesses’ of the ruling party, there have been very few examples of Presidents having done so in the past.
It is common knowledge that Yashwant Sinha’s break with the BJP has nothing to do with ideological disillusionment and much to do with having been cursorily sidelined by the new leadership. He was not the only one and the others too hold similar grudges, not failing to take a shot at the ruling dispensation when the opportunity arises. They are free to do so, but the people should not be expected to believe their actions are due to principled politics.
Instead of trying to get others to do its job, the opposition would do well to get its act together. Even the experts, commentators and analysts that have been in the opposition’s camp have begun to point out that its style of politics is greatly outdated. The only party that has a clear idea of its objectives and how to achieve them is the Aam Aadmi Party. Its pursuit of power is as focused, opportunistic and cold-blooded as the Communists used to be at one time. If anything, it has no ideology and will say or do anything to get the votes – for it ‘the ends justify the means’. It also has a younger team and does not depend on ‘have-beens’ that lead the other outfits on the basis of past accomplishments. For the time being, however, the opposition is a greatly divided lot and the results of the Presidential elections will very likely reflect that truth.