New Vice President, Old Politics: How Can Opposition Defeat BJP?

Jagdeep Dhankhar’s emphatic win in the vice-presidential elections is another indication of the BJP’s supremacy in national politics. BJD and YSRCP, two “neutral” regional parties, were more likely to vote for Dhankhar than disenchanted opposition parties. In presidential and vice-presidential elections, the national ruling party always has an advantage in capturing votes from parties that are not completely aligned with it. Regional parties understand that a vote against the Centre isn’t worth the effort of antagonising these two positions, which have little political value.

But the near-disaster of the monsoon session should prompt the BJP to rethink its strategy. Legislators will always have dissenting views, regardless of who is in charge. In parliamentary politics, legislation, protest, discussion, and scrutiny are all intertwined. For both Dhankhar and Om Birla, the cross-party support for him should drive them to reassess how both Houses are currently operating. MPs who have been suspended indefinitely for demonstrating are plainly causing more problems than they are solving.

Parliament should not be emulating state legislatures where MLAs are suspended and taken out of the chamber in a rough and tumble manner. Presiding officers should take a more even-handed approach to debates and other issues that need more time and attention. It is important for policymakers to engage in conversations about problems like inflation, jobs, China, Agnipath and the public budget. As a result, Parliament might serve as a role model for state legislatures, many of which only meet for a few weeks each year.

Opponents are likewise confronted with tough questions in the VP elections. With barely 20 months to go before the 2024 elections, there is little sign of opposition unity. The aspiration of Mamata Banerjee to establish herself as an opposition beachhead has been thwarted by her puzzling choice to not run for vice president. As a result, the Congress’s claim that it is the only party with a national presence to oppose the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may likely acquire momentum.

Other political parties are not enthused by its losses in consecutive state elections and Rahul Gandhi’s on/off-again strategy. Congress may have to prepare for a scenario in which more regional parties, even present partners, see it as less and less of an alliance leader in the wake of Mamata’s abstention from the VP votes. At least in certain states, opposition parties will eat into each other’s support if there is no opposition unity of even a cosmetic form. For the BJP, this is only good news.