The opposition in a democracy plays as important a role as the government. For a strong and sensible government to work in a proper way, according to the will of the people, and equally strong and sensible opposition is a must. Such an opposition is the secret of the success of democracy in England, the oldest democracy of the word. There is mainly one strong political party is opposition. In this lies the strength of democracy in that country.
On the other hand, in Indian there are a number of opposition parties constantly quarreling among themselves. This is the greatest weakness of Indian democracy. In India there is no strong, united and healthy opposition. There are various reasons for it. No industrial revolution has taken place in this country. The result is that the working class is not politically conscious and, therefore, it is disunited and weak.
The opposition parties do not have any clear cut programmes and policies. Their approach is often communal, sectarian or regional. Their leaders are confused and have no idea of their aims and objectives. They quarrel for power and there are frequent splits. There are often defections on a large scale. People do not have faith in such parties, and so they fail to secure a majority in the elections. In the legislature itself, their leaders indulge in destructive criticism to gain their political ends. They keep party interest above national interest.
The role of opposition in a democracy is very important. The opposition accelerates the growth of the county or retards its growth by untimely agitations. For example, the violent agitations in Gujarat, Bihar, Assam and Punjab resulted in great loss of life and propensity and failed entirely to gain their objectives. The Government’s policy of State Trading in Food grains was wrongly criticized for political reasons. The result was that procurement targets could not be reached and wheat had to be imported to build up comfortable buffer stock. This was essential to hold the price-line. Such a destructive approach is against the national interest.
The role of opposition in a democracy should be healthy. It should criticize the Government policies in the national interest and not for part gains. The opposition parties must come together and merge on the basic of similarity in their ideologies. Universal illiteracy and universal poverty, unhealthy linguist, regionalism, racism and casteism characterize Indian life. They are all obstacles in the way of the growth of a cohesive social and political life in the country.
There is a mushroom growth of political parties due to the selfishness and lack of far sightedness of their leaders. Parties can come together on the basis of common ideology. But in India the party alliances are opportunistic, the only common ground between them being their hostility to the Government. Obviously, such alliances are bound to be short lived. For example, the Janta Party was a coalition of a number of political parties. So it, could not rule the nation for any length of time. It was thrown out of power due to the inter-quarreling of the opposition parties.
In a democracy the aims of the Government and the opposition should be the same- the good of the people. The opposition should criticize the government to implement its manifesto. It should criticize the government only to make it more efficient and honest. Criticism should be based on sound principles. Opposition parties should keep in mind that they may be called upon by the people to form the Government by any time. They should, therefore, function in a responsible way.