Any democracy needs a thriving and coherent opposition. How can the role of the opposition be made more effective for the better functioning of democracy?
The opposition parties are those political parties that do not belong to the parliamentary majority or the government coalition and voice their disagreements and critical views concerning government action and are competing for legal accession to and the peaceful exercise of power.
Opposition parties are inseparable components of parliaments and they also 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. Democracies become complete with opposition.
ROLE OF OPPOSITION IN A DEMOCRACY
- It prevents the ruling government from developing arrogant and autocratic deviations from the path of progress and democratic values.
- It has an important role in highlighting the loopholes in government bills, policies and action. Example: Parliamentary Standing Committee on agriculture has strongly criticised the regulatory system on genetically modified (GM) crops in the country.
- It holds the government accountable and bring transparency in governance by using different instruments like No-Confidence Motion, Starred questions, Censure Motion, etc.
- The Leader of the opposition is consulted when important appointments are made. Example: CVC, CIC, NHRC and Lokpal.
- It creates awareness among the public by their constructive criticism on government policies and actions.
- It gives representation to minority interest.
MEASURES TO STRENGTHEN THE OPPOSITION
- It needs to work proactively and collectively by put their thoughts in order and prepare a constructive action plan.
- It needs to reach out to the masses: An opposition of the people, by the people, for the people.
- The role of opposition should not stop with criticism of government policies. It should provide alternate points of view.
- The Opposition parties should criticise the ruling government based on rational views and ideology. It shouldn’t be based on mere political lines.
- It should induct lot of potential youngsters and practice internal democracy in their party lines.
- Culture of Shadow cabinet: Like in Westminster tradition, Opposition’ role should be not only to oppose and criticise the government, but also to take the responsibility of forming an alternate government should it become possible to do so in the event of the fall of the existing one.
- Under the Salaries and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977, recognising a member of the house as leader of the opposition is a statutory duty and non-discretionary decision of the Speaker. No political consideration can be brought into it.
The role of the opposition party is not to oppose every decision of the ruling party. Rather, it is the duty of the opposition party to support the ruling party for the acts that are in the interest of the nation. Opposition parties must aspire to play a constructive role rather than a detrimental one.