Rahul Gandhi is only partially right when he says that the BJP’s control of the autonomous institutions is hampering the opposition parties at the national level to make any headway. Although there is a grain of truth in the Congress leader’s charge, there are more basic reasons why the opposition is unable to pose a serious challenge to the ruling party at the centre.
Chief among them is the absence of an effective speaker in the non-BJP parties who can match Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rhetoric or even the fluency of the BJP’s other front-ranking leaders. It is difficult to think of any occasion when an opposition politician has been able to hold the crowd spellbound for any length of time.
Perhaps the only exception in recent years was the RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav who did draw surging crowds during the Bihar elections. Not surprisingly, his party came out on top with the largest number of seats although it could not oust the ruling Janata Dal (United)-BJP combine.
However, there was a typical example of the RJD’s and the opposition’s short-sightedness when it kept out Kanhaiya Kumar, the former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader, from the Bihar campaign although he is an excellent speaker.
It is possible that the fear that he may outshine Tejashwi was behind his marginalization. As long as the opposition does not produce persuasive speakers or sidelines those known for their fluency and political acumen, it will always be running behind the BJP.
Another reason why the opposition parties are falling behind is their seeming lack of energy in contrast to the remarkable ability of the BJP leaders, including the septuagenarian prime minister, to storm across the length and breadth of the country without showing any interest in taking time off.