Politics & International Studies

Opposition’s fate a litmus test for future of democracy

Opposition’s fate a litmus test for future of democracy
Image Source : PTI File Photo / Deccan Herald

If the Congress makes the opposition sound effete, the BJP makes dominance sound hegemonic. Each destroys the creative idea of opposition in their own singular way.


Shiv Visvanathan, Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.


The word ‘opposition’ has become a strange term, pregnant with contrary meanings. It conveys a challenge, a difference, a contrariness, in fact, a roadblock.

Yet the presence of an opposition creates the logic of democracy, and the celebration of difference so critical to the democratic imagination. The very idea of opposition conveys an anticipation of drama, debate, and difference. Yet, often the word can be misconstrued, and the ‘opposition’ becomes an object of contempt. One senses this in the recent scenarios around the Patna meeting to announce a united opposition to the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee, warned that the opposition also belongs to Bharat Mata, and that people in the opposition were citizens of India. She was responding to the BJPs attempt to turn the opposition into an alien force, into a series of ‘Urban Naxals’. One realises that the majoritarian nature of the regime has turned the idea of the ‘opposition’ into a Judas concept, a treasonous idea in the age of consensus.

In fact, the word ‘opposition’ conveys a contrary unity, a competing vision. It is this sense of vision that adds power to politics. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi summed it up in his own childlike way. He said “The battle is between the Bharat Jodo and the Bharat Todo party”. Gandhi summed it up like a children’s crusade, but his scenario is simplistically inviting.

Published in: Deccan Herald

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