January 23, 2022

Need for Opposition in Democracy

According to Social contractually, and especially taking clue from T.H. Green’s statement that “will not the force should be the brain of state” which was later demonstrated by Rousseau and finally we consider Immanuel Kant words as we need to have a strong opposition in parliamentary democracy.

The democracy operates as there is choice all the way up to the selection of government. Democracy provides the choice to have various views, and these views should not be only of the ruling government but also the opposition.

Democracy is accepted as government in most of the nation today. This is due to principle of rule of law that promises equality and freedom to all, this ensures proper checks and balance in the political system. This system is meant to guard against any attempts by the leading party who try to tamper with it.

Historical evidence says that ‘power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely’[1] , when there is bestowing muscular power to the party at center the danger of “Tranny of Majority” looms large over the head of people. Democracy is said to be incomplete without opposition. If there is no opposition there is no democracy.

The strength of democracy can be judged, not by the strength of government but by the strength of the opposition. Opposition is very breath and soul of a democratic setup. Ruling government and opposition are two faces of the parliamentary democracy and one is incomplete without the other.

“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”[2].

The opposition and ruling are two faces of same coin and one is complete without the other, the successful democracies of the world always has revered and respected the opposition. “If you see Indian democracy it is not just in diminishing crisis but there is a deep diminishing of hope at this juncture, in comparison in the past five to ten year”.

Democracy in meant for the parliament and not for the ruling party. In our democratic system we should not only highlight the importance of ruling power but need to highlight the opposition. Within the premise of the democracy peoples mind should be constructed in a way that there is a need of opposition and its importance needs to be highlighted.

The successful operation of democracy depends on what I have called democratic reasoning. This democratic reasoning proceeds with debate, discussion, negotiation, compromise and mutual accommodation. This is the important and cardinal feature of democracy. In democracy one is not needed to abdomen his own view.

Opposition is there to scrutinize the voice of the people[3]. There is always a need to be the one who is there to ask and question the things done if this very quality is not shown then there will be no democracy.

Democracy works as a watchdog in the parliament and this very function helps to show that if something will went wrong this watchdog is there to protect the whole concept of democracy. Opposition has a responsibility create mass awareness about the issues that are going on in the parliament.

Opposition can be said as the voice of minority[4]. As ruling party is there and this party is chosen by majority of people of that country, but there will some who were not in favour of that party they might have different opinion than what ruling party has so here also the opposition plays a key role it helps to raise that voice and keeps its views in the parliament.

Opposition is needed to reveal the flaws. If something went wrong opposition analyze that and is there to highlight that part in the parliament as to have a powerful democratic setup. Opposition check the implementation of schemes and revenue that are being passed by the parliament.

Opposition represents and defend the interest of the people by relevant legislation. The leader of opposition as a very important role to play in appointing the CVC, CIC, Director of central institution etc. These roles are meant for check and balance of the ruling government, it is to be done to have a fair ruling government.

If there is strong opposition in parliament it brings out all the possible angles of discussion. The opposition gives all the viewpoints that ruling power don’t wish to highlight.

If there is a strong opposition in parliament there will be a viable choice in election to replace the ruling party. Strong opposition makes up a fear in the mind of ruling party to make them perform the work properly. Fear to lose the government will make them do the work in right manner.

If we see today’s government of our democratic country it is virtually unstoppable and can even lead to huge disaster. To these people in democracy we have opportunity to control our leaders and can also dethrone them without need of any revolution. Opposition is one of the prerequisites for a healthy democracy in any democratic country.

Bestowing a muscular power to the party at the center, the danger of “the tranny majority” can loom large number of people in any democratic setup.

There is a need of a united, strong, meaningful, committed, credible and responsible opposition is badly needed at this juncture. A strong and effective opposition is the need of the hour. With this the ruling government would perform “minimum government with maximum governance”. With strong opposition ruling government can be more responsive, transparent and accountable. Strong opposition is needed so that ruling government does not assume its arbitrariness.

There is need that opposition should rise above fragile coalitions any dynastic politics. There is need have a strong charismatic leader of opposition to reclaim its lost credibility and charm. “Opposition is important for a healthy democracy. Democracy cannot survive without opposition” said by Rajnath Singh[5]. We need to digest the fundamental principle of democracy that dictates “winner do not and should not take all.” The failure to accept this severe violation of the functioning of a democratic system and does not bring progress. It brings only backwardness.

When you have government with total majority there is totalitarian technocracy and majority will control your life there will be no importance of democracy if you are controlled by the people whose idea you do not support or believe in.

Life may get manipulated if you give power in one hand or few hands of same strategy and same thinking. They may lead to something wrong, which is ultimately going to harms the people of that democratic setup. When you have majority there is a chance that people get psychologically unbalanced. When there is majority in ruling power then the role of opposition becomes zero. No power of opposition can be used if so much power is with government.

Opposition is in our country is often treated as enemy we need to change this perspective, and we need to have a positive though and should also try to have a powerful opposition to make our country a true democratic.

In times of the national crises, democracy gained strength as government and opposition act in concert. This is the power of democracy that should be given importance. Take the example of Jammu and Kashmir issue abrogation of 370 was done, not focusing on thing that it was right or wrong but the point of focus is that was this abrogation discussed well? In the parliament because of no powerful opposition we have no voice which is strongly opposing the abrogation.

The laws in India about opposition is myriad and contradictory. However there should be interpretation that should be in a clarified manner that should provide a strong opposition at all times. Denying opposition in the parliament sets wrong precedents and dilutes the importance of democracy.

Parliament are not only law making bodies. They are forums that enable deliberation, encourage mediation, facilitate criticism of government policies and make possible the hammering out of compromise and offering of alternatives and that’s why the role of opposition become important.

India is a vibrant democracy and we are known for preserving our plurality and we are a debating society from earlier times, and for this a strong opposition is always needed for coping up with crises of governability.

A sound working opposition is essential for democracy, such an opposition is needed to be strong and healthy. Strong opposition is needed so that government don’t misuse its power. But the true function can be performed when there is sense of responsibility as to give topmost priority to public interest against any community or party interest. Discipline and proper conduct ensures a smooth and perfect progress of our democratic structure[6].

[1] Lord Acton

[2] Omkar Dattatary, ‘Role of opposition in a democracy’ The Hindu(New Delhi, June 24 2019).

[3] Neera Chandhok, ‘vote for the sake of parliament’ The Hindu (New Delhi, 10 may 2019).

[4] K.S. Komireddi, Malevolent Republic (First Published 2018, Hurst Publisher)146.

[5] Rajnath Singh, ‘Democracy cannot survive without opposition’ News Nation (New Delhi, December 06,2015).

[6] Atul Kohli, democracy and discontent (26 April 1991, Cambridge university press)152.

Author Details: Prachi Agnihotri (UPES)

Law Library LawBhoomi

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