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Lessons From The BJP And Their Role As Opposition In The Indian Democracy

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“Ruling party ka kaam hota hai law banana,
aur opposition ka kaam hota hai monitoring karna.”
(The ruling party is responsible for making and maintaining the law, but it is the opposition’s job to keep this in check by monitoring them)
-Sushma Swaraj during a speech at Delhi University in 2013

Although what she said is well known by everyone, but I want to repeat that without a strong opposition, a democracy dies. It took 60 years for the BJP to come to this position. Before they were in power, no one ever said that the opposition was not active, rather they would say that the opposition was more active than required.

While in the functioning of the legislature, we see how all responsibility goes to the opposition for disrupting the functioning of the parliament which delays due process, but this is how democracy works, where in reality, the opposition puts their effort into criticizing the government. A real bargaining of power takes place, which mostly results in the benefit of the nation.

It is simply like two-three telecom sectors competing with each other and in this competition, the beneficiaries are rhe costumers. Similarly, this ruler-opposition tussle benefits people and country (mostly). On this ground, the post of the leader of opposition was created through the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977. This year also, after the general elections, the Congress was chosen as an opposition, but what’s the use of this act in the presence of a weak opposition?

Since the elections, the Triple Talaq Bill, the RTI amendment, the UAPA amendment, Reorganization of States Bill, etc. were presented but the opposition hardly played a role! Although, the ruling government has a majority in the parliament, and it may seem like the opposition under our constitutional set up hardly matters, but this position was also held by the BJP and they did an admirable job.

While sections 193,184 and 156 of the Act provided different provision for discussion, the BJP as opposition always demanded bills should be discussed under 184 because under this, voting and discussion takes place. For example. during the Lokpal debate in 2011, the BJP pressurized the speaker to take discussion under rule 184.

This is how the political system runs, but now, the opposition is unfortunately unable to play any decisive role.

Now the question arises: despite such a historical and cultural background, as well as with the economy slowing down, poor performance of the farming sector, unemployment, democratic crackdown, institutional crises, human rights violations, etc. why is the Congress unable to play any role in monitoring the ruling government and strengthening the democracy?

1) As I have already mentioned, our constitutional set up allows ample space on the hand of the ruling party. Now, arranging 272 votes (majority) is no more big a deal, in which the opposition has no say.

2) The Congress does not appeal to the masses as they lack a ground in the people, although Rahul Gandhi has tried his part.

3) The Congress’ own internal crisis. Although Sonia Gandhi has been nominated as the new chairman, it is only temporary.

4) Recently, Rahul Gandhi was stopped at the airport and not allowed to enter in Jammu and Kashmir. A few months ago, Priyanka Gandhi was stopped by the Uttar Pradesh police on her way to meet a family who were affected by the Sonbhadra killings.

Recently, the BJP, without winning a single seat in the Assembly polls, has become the main opposition party in Sikkim. The BJP’s Ram Madhav said, “we will play the role of a constructive opposition.” 

Keeping aside all the economic, political, social issues associated with the BJP, I believe that the BJP has been very responsible toward their position. They are the real opposition when in the position and take on the role of a ruler equally well.

Featured image source: Getty Images.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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