The fear of hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully, the saying goes. The election debacle in Uttar Pradesh seems to be finally compelling Opposition leaders to search for survival strategies.
As the electoral juggernaut of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continues it unrelenting roll, it is also changing the political landscape and political discourse in India.
In these circumstances, what can the non-BJP parties do? What can bring them together? These are the questions that were put to Sudhindra Bhadoria, a senior leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). His party faces the prospect of desertions by its voters if they see no prospect of the party assuming power in the near future.
While denying that a section of Dalit voters had either abandoned the party or that many more might do so at the next opportunity, Bhadoria said the real challenge of our times was communalism, and those who were trying to do away with the Constitution of India in the name of creating a 'Hindu Rashtra' or Hindu nation.
Protecting the Constitution of India from subversion by the Hindutva forces was the biggest challenge before political parties and the only basis for bringing the Opposition forces together, he claimed.
The “secular, democratic and tolerant character of the Constitution, with equality as its fundamental basis needs to be protected,” Bhadoria said.
The objective of the BJP was not just winning the legislative election in Uttar Pradesh, or installing Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of the country, he argued. Its electoral victories had emboldened it to revive its agenda of creating a Hindu nation, he claimed.
“The Constitution is the only document which provides us the basis to fight (the BJP) and stall its overall objective. We are inspired by the ideas of Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar. We are committed to the Constitution not only in its letter and spirit. Each drop of our sweat and blood in our body is for protecting the Constitution of this country,” he declared.
“In order to fight them (the BJP), we need a counter-narrative,” he said. When asked to elaborate on what might constitute that counter-narrative, he said that it had to be built around those political forces which wanted to strengthen democracy, and who had faith in the Constitution of India.
Would his party join such an alliance of non-BJP forces? “It all depends on how other Opposition parties seek our support to resolve the challenges that we face today. We will definitely respond to a call (for Opposition unity) when it is given by responsible leaders of the Opposition,” he said.
“Behen Mayawati is a very positive person and her commitment to and faith in the Indian Constitution is unflinching. She will do everything to safeguard the Constitution of this country,” he declared.