You can’t beat something with nothing

That’s the basic message of Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s most recent Indian Express column, on the failures of the opposition to construct a plausible alternative to Narendra Modi:

“But the sheer self-destructive pettiness and parochialism of the other parties is making it likely that the BJP’s failings will not be challenged by a credible Opposition, but by an outbreak of infantilism, where each alternative leader seems to get smaller by the day.. . .

The danger is that new forms of social conflict may no longer be channelled through political parties. Besides the total loss of control in Kashmir, we have seen violent agitations in the economic powerhouses of Gujarat, Karnataka and Haryana this year. Kerala is emerging as a new hotbed of violence, its model now under serious social strain. Maharashtra is on the verge of major caste conflict, and criminality and communalism still define UP’s identity. India will need deeper political resources for social mediation. All it might get is an Opposition that seems not to want to rise to challenges; they are all making Modi look larger than he is.”

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