100 days of Congress in Opposition: Only noise?

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A lot of talks have happened over the first 100 days of the Narendra Modi government in power. The man, who is often projected as one of most polarising figures in Indian politics, was put under the lens for minute dissection as what he has done or could have done better. The verdict was diverse, as expected in a democracy.

But at the same time, is it not worth to analyse the role of the Opposition when a majority government is in power? How much has the Opposition succeeded in playing out its role, which is also significant in a democracy, in the first 100 days of the Narendra Modi government?

To begin with, the Opposition in the 16th Lok Sabha is still not a clear entity. No party has the required number in the Parliament to get the formal status of an Opposition party but does that justify that there will be no Opposition? The Congress, as the second largest party with 44 seats in the Parliament, was expected to play the role of the main Opposition party even informally for it has a sea of experience but it completely messed up the opportunity.

Compulsive criticism only?

The Congress's opposition so far has been confined to compulsive criticism of the Modi government, no matter what it does. The most shocking aspect of the party's opposition is that it kept on attacking the Modi government even on issues that it had once supported, for example, some of the reform bills.

On issues like WTO or Pakistan, why not back the govt and engage it in talks

On questions of national interest like the World Trade Organisation agreement and Pakistan's constant violation of the borders, the Congress kept on attacking the Modi government, accusing it of misleading the people and lacking a coherent foreign policy. It must have understood before making these allegations that it was its coalition which was in office for the 3650 days preceding the 100 days of the Modi government and if New Delhi still lacks a coherent foreign policy, the blame can not be just squarely put on the new government.

Congress could have formed a platform for a united Opposition

The Congress could have tried to form an alliance of Opposition to counter the Modi government. But perhaps, the party has lost both the capacity and the interest to lead in that direction. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi made valiant efforts to make a mark as an Opposition leader a couple of times but his theatrics fell flat on all occasions.

The Congress could have played a constructive role in the controversies surrounding Yogi Adityanath or frequent transfers of governors. MP Shashi Tharoor is found playing a more active role in this by taking on the Modi government on various issues. Why the party vice-president can't act on such lines?

What has PM's drumming to do with local problems?

In the first instance, the Congress vice-president stormed the well of the Lok Sabha to raise a voice on issues like UPSC exam row and communal tension in Uttar Pradesh and in doing so, accused the government and also the Speaker of biased treatment.

In the second instance, he attacked Prime Minister Modi directly over his playing drums during his just-concluded visit to Japan [read here], accusing the latter of overlooking issues like power crisis. This he said after facing protest from the people of Amethi, his constituency, over the power situation.

One hardly understood what the PM's playing drums in Japan had to do with Amethi's power problems? A Congress prime minister was in power at the Centre for the past 10 years and Rahul Gandhi himself has remained the MP of Amethi, a stronghold of the Gandhis, since 2004. Why still the situation didn't change? Or does Rahul Gandhi target PM Modi whenever the rift in his own party widens?

Rahul Gandhi is a leader who humiliated his own PM publicly

The Congress could have evaluated the Modi government on a positive note and act in a more mature manner. But for that, it needed to understand that the Modi government has a massive mandate behind it and anti-incumbency is yet to grow in the mind of the voters. It may even take more time to take shape, given Modi's popularity.

However, having said that, Rahul Gandhi is a man who has not stopped from publicly humiliating even his own party's prime minister in the past. Expecting him to take a well-thought out route to deal with Modi is perhaps a bit too much.

Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi were known to have made some impact when in the opposition. Rahul Gandhi is yet to exhibit the skills, at least after the first 100 days.

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