Omkar Dattatray Opposition and democracy are inter-related and cannot be separated from each other. Opposition is the very breath and soul of a democracy and therefore role and significance of opposition in a parliamentary democracy can neither be exaggerated nor down played. Treasury benches and the opposition are two faces of parliamentary democracy and one is incomplete without the other. Strong, constructive and viable as well as reformative opposition can play an important role in democratic functioning and governance. One cannot think of a successful democracy without a strong, united and constructive opposition. Opposition works as a watchdog of public interests in a democracy and keeps the ruling party on its toes and criticizes the policies and programs of the government which they think are not in consonance with the public good. Therefore, a strong and constructive opposition is necessary for the functioning of a government in a democracy. But the only criterion is that the opposition should not oppose for the sake of opposition but should work for constructive opposition for the common good of the public. Opposition works as a check on the powers of the government in a democracy and sometimes it forces the ruling party to work as per its aspirations. Opposition and that too constructive one is as important in a democracy as the ruling party and both of them should work for greater good of the public and the nation. It is so good that our PM Narendra Modi has appreciated the role of opposition and has asked it not to worry about their numbers. It implies that opposition is very important to the Modi dispensation irrespective of its numbers. Democracy without a strong and constructive opposition becomes authoritarian in nature and exceeds its delineated jurisdiction which is not in the interest of a democracy. In fact, for the successful working of parliamentary democracy a strong and viable opposition is a must and it is the responsibility of the ruling party to respect the opposition for the growth, development and flourishing of a democracy. Thus, treasury benches and the opposition are the two faces of the same coin and one is incomplete without the other. In the successful democracies of the world, opposition is revered and respected and its suggestions and criticism is taken into account and so in India as well opposition is held in high esteem. But the opposition should not criticize each and every action of the government for the sake of opposition but should act for constructive criticism which leads to growth of democracy and fulfillment of the public good. As already said opposition is the guardian of the public interests and reminds the government of the day of its duty towards the people who have elected them to power. Therefore, a constructive opposition is the watchdog of the interests of the people like the fourth estate. But the opposition should not blindly oppose acts of the government as is seen in our country and this is a cause of concern. Opposition thus should not obstruct the governance but should rather facilitate it. Opposition should know its rights, obligations and the role and should work for the furtherance of the democratic culture and not criticize the good works of the government. As said at the outset that treasury benches and the opposition are the two wheels of the cart of democratic governance and both should work in unison for the nation’s good. Thus, in a democracy opposition counts. Opposition parties are inseparable components/elements of the parliament and they should function according to the rules of the game, reassuring the application of those checks and balances with their contribution to government policies and constructive criticism. In fact, opposition parties oppose the parties in power by voicing their different views, issues and criticizing the government. An opposition ensures that the party or parties in power do not misuse, exceed or abuse the mandate the people have given them. Opposition exposes the weaknesses of the ruling party. In a democracy like ours opposition is as important as the treasury benches provided it is strong and performs the function of constructive opposition and criticism. The role of opposition is to constructively criticize the policies and programs of the government and make the government to work in accordance with the public good. The opposition’s main role is to question the government of the day and hold them accountable to public. The manner in which opposition parties work together can influence the outcomes – if they succeed in working together and in building the political numbers, they even increase the chances of toppling the government but this is not a possibility in today as the opposition does not have such a numerical strength but the unity among the opposition parties can exert checks and balances on the ruling party and this is the shining example of democracy and opposition in action. Constructively criticizing the policies, plans, bills, laws which in accordance with them are against the common people’s welfare are the functions of the opposition parties. Opposition should highlight the negative points of these. Opposition in fact acts as the real voice of the people and the society. They carry the suggestions of the civil society to the parliament and the government at the centre. But alas the present Congress party and the other opposition parties are of very little use! They only act to disturb parliamentary debates and proceedings. They hardly make suggestions or contribute to debates. They only disturb the parliamentary debates and proceedings instead of contributing to these. To sum up opposition has a very important and positive role to play in a democracy. Its role is not to criticize each and every decision of the government but should support those actions and decisions which are good and in public interest.
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