NEW DELHI : The final day of the last session of Parliament under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set the stage for an exciting run-up to general elections 2019. The opposition parties will now have to end, or at least temporarily set aside, their differences to challenge the political might of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

While a fractured opposition dominated most of the five-year term of the NDA government, an alliance of all parties opposing Modi is perhaps the only option to counter the popularity of the Prime Minister, but as of now it is still a tall order for the parties to bury their differences and come under one umbrella.

Senior NDA leaders argued that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) cannot be compared to the present dispensation, as the coalition government of 2009-14 was riddled with allegations of corruption and scams, as it had to accommodate the demands of alliance partners.

“It is true that there has been a continuous confrontation between the NDA and opposition for nearly five years both inside and outside the Parliament, but it is also a fact that the NDA government has taken several steps to improve the economy, for social upliftment and action against the corrupt," a senior NDA leader said, requesting anonymity.

The achievements under PM Modi was not just about identifying non-performing assets (NPAs), but also about taking concrete measures to bring back economic fugitives who had fled the country after defaulting on bank loans.

“The 15th Lok Sabha was about the damage caused by the Congress to the country. The 16th Lok Sabha is about repairing the economy. The government has taken steps to bring a new taxation system, farmers would soon start getting better price for their produce, and army veterans have got their pensions," he added.

Regional parties, which have maintained a safe distance from both the BJP and the Congress acknowledged the work done by the NDA government for the development of the country, but was of the view that it was unfair to suggest that coalition governments cannot be decisive or take steps for economic reforms.

(Graphic: Paras Jain/Mint)

“Of course such statements are political. It depends on the leadership of the government to take important measures for the country," said Bhartruhari Mahtab, a senior leader of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). “The comparison between the UPA’s second term in office and the first term of the NDA may not be a fair comparison. The more appropriate comparison would be between the UPA-I and the present government. While UPA was a coalition government, it took strong steps for economic and social development along with steps to ensure energy security."

The BJD leader added that likewise, the NDA government which enjoyed full majority, has also taken several steps for economic development and social upliftment, besides steps for the betterment of the farmer community. “The NDA government also took strong steps, especially steps such as demonetization and implementation of the goods and services tax (GST). The impact of these bitter pills is still being felt."

Political analysts say that while both the NDA and UPA governments tried to work for the people, the confrontation between the opposition and government increased under the present regime.

“The comparison between the two governments or Lok Sabha tenure is unfair. Both the governments worked to transform the lives of people. But the biggest difference between the NDA and UPA was the majority of BJP, which had emboldened them to have continuous confrontations with the opposition," said Badri Narayan, director, Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute, Prayagraj.

Congress leaders, however, alleged that the ruling party did not take enough care to reaching out to the opposition, particularly with respect to floor management. “Earlier, there would be a lot of coordination, pre-session meetings and unofficial talks initiated by the government with the main opposition. But all of that went missing under this government. They had no intention of engaging with the opposition even to get crucial bills passed," a senior Congress leader said, requesting anonymity.

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