Free Press Journal

Bharat Bandh, Akrosh Diwas: A wasted opposition effort


New Delhi : Kerala opposition MP's accross party lines protest in Parliament against demonetisation on Tuesday. PTI Photo by Shirish Shete(PTI11_22_2016_000078B)

The lack of coordination and the confused state of the Opposition in Parliament have come out in sharp focus with the manner in which the Bharat bandh, later christened ‘Akrosh Diwas’ was organised on Monday. With more than a dozen opposition parties participating to express their anger over the demonetisation of higher denomination notes and the scheme’s poor implementation, it was expected that the nationwide call would create some impact. But there was little that the parties achieved while they exposed themselves to the charge that they had no alternative action plan and were rudderless.

The divisions in the ranks of the opposition made it seem as though the opposition parties were groping for what the stand of a united opposition should be. There was indeed no leadership worth the name to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi who continued to look formidable in the face of the poor challenge to him. Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio talk and his public rally in Kushinagar in UP stole the thunder as he drew a comparison between ‘Bharat bandh’ of the Opposition and his own anti-black money crusade.

What soured the pitch most for the opposition was that the Janata Dal (United) spearheaded by Nitish Kumar and the Biju Janata Dal headed by Naveen Patnaik were not on the same page as the other opposition parties. Both parties were in principle in favour of demonetisation as a policy and the JD(U) even came out in favour of remonetisation.

Therefore, in Bihar and Orissa, the protests were a damp squib. In Delhi where the government is led by Arvind Kejriwal, and West Bengal where the driving force was the irrepressible Mamata Banerjee, the issue was the rollback of demonetisation. Mamata Banerjee’s public protest had an impressive turnout. The Left, which was opposed to demonetisation too made no impact in West Bengal, showing that it had been left far behind. The Congress was groping with its leadership perforce left to Rahul Gandhi who had neither a grip over the issue nor the ability to spearhead a movement. In fact, this was Rahul’s chance to show that he could take on the mantle of Opposition leadership but he failed miserably. All in all, it was a wasted opposition effort.