There is talk brewing once again of a grand political alliance in 2024 against the Modi government.

There is talk brewing once again of a grand political alliance in 2024 against the Modi government. Not for the first time in the last few months, some form of combinatorial calculus of anti-BJP forces has been proposed. Proponents would have you believe that ‘this time is going to be different’, with some eminent leaders convinced that ‘equidistance’ from the Congress and the BJP is the magic formula.

Political leaders of all hues have come forward to stake claim as a matchmaker, kingmaker and compromise leader. The political jargon may be plenty, but the substance still seems woefully lacking. The idea of a Grand Opposition Alliance is the arrogant naivete of those who have still not understood that the Indian political system now rewards performance instead of names.

Alliances were relevant in Indian politics a few decades ago, but their continued usage suggests a deep ignorance of the present political ecology. It is ironic, too, because the leaders who established their constituency on a wave of anti-Congress sentiment in the 80s and 90s are now seeking public succour by once again distancing themselves from the Congress.

Having said that, it must be conceded that there is some merit in political parties distancing themselves from the Congress right now. It is as much an act of survival as it is of strategy. The disastrous foreign trip of the party’s so-called leader in the last few weeks has sped up the disintegration of what was already a tenuous alliance. Not only did this leader disgrace himself, but he also broke an unwritten code of conduct by questioning India’s democratic credentials abroad.

Despite the survivalist impulse, the Opposition fails to see that the old ways of electoral politics are done. The lazy language of coalitions and anti-incumbency is dying. In its place, a new grammar of politics has taken a life. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has single-handedly revolutionised political discourse in India. The old debates of ‘secularism vs communalism’ and vote banks have withered away. Indians wish to move on from this tiresome discourse.

Even as the Opposition yearns for an undefined ‘idea of India’, Modi’s ‘New India’ is already taking shape. Opposition parties fail to understand that the social forces behind these changes arise from national aspirations far loftier than electoral promises. The BJP has been working towards this social transformation for decades—equally at the grassroots as at the highest levels of governance.

Today, India is the world’s fastest-growing economy. It is also the next major hub of global innovation, housing the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world presently. It has the highest smartphone data consumption and global fintech adoption rate in the world. Its manufacturing base is increasing rapidly, evidenced by India being the second-largest mobile manufacturer and second-largest steel producer in the world.

India’s accelerating growth story and increasing global stature are reflective of the Modi government’s sweeping reforms. The bedrock of this transformation has been the emphasis on ensuring saturation of service through the delivery of public goods and social security in the form of three crore houses and 11 crore toilets since 2014, to give a couple of examples. In a nutshell, the prime minister has shown that ‘good governance is good politics’. This is why the Indian people trust the Modi government and why they gave it a resounding second term. They reposed their trust because the government has been working successfully towards the nation’s collective goals. In PM Modi, people see an unwavering and committed leader who leads them honourably.

Unable to accept this political reality, the Opposition has tried various tactics to attack the BJP, each yielding diminishing returns. It has been said that the NDA government ignores the rights of minorities. The inclusivity of the government’s policies continues to thwart that narrative. The performance of the BJP in the recent elections in the Northeast (which has a substantial minority population) signifies the success of its core message of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas. Development, it seems, is impervious to social divides—a lesson that has escaped my esteemed colleagues in the Opposition.

Another infantile attempt to besmirch the Modi government has been to declare that democracy is dying in India. Nothing could be further from the truth; India has never been more vibrant. Civil liberties and freedom of expression continue to be the basis of the BJP’s relationship with Indian society. Since 2014, citizens have exercised their electoral rights in record numbers. India’s judiciary regularly demonstrates its independence from the executive through various judgements and statements.

At this point, the Opposition parties seem to have lost their sense of direction and purpose. Their despicable behaviour in Parliament not only defeats the ideal of parliamentary dignity but also leads to a grievous waste of public resources. Much as they hope that this will bring more visibility, all it does is take away credibility.

This is what happens when a group lacks any definable ideology or principles. The lack of organisation and a credible leader to obviate the impulses of corruption and nepotism that run rampant within tells the sorry tale of the Opposition today. And yet, talk of a grand alliance re-emerges. Local popularity, it seems, has made regional leaders who have no national footprint and no grassroots-level engagement forget that people de-hyphenated state-level politics from national politics a while ago.

Is it that the rudderless Opposition is already sensing the dark clouds of defeat on the horizon?

Related Articles