Friday, April 05, 2019


In the Great Indian election pageantry the issue is all about who controls the narrative. As I see there are two narratives: the narrative of Prime Minister Modi in which he espouses nationalism, communalism, majoritarianism; and the narrative of the Congress party that promises minimum wage guarantees, 22 lakh jobs for the youth, a separate budget for the farmers and so on and so forth. However the Congress seems to have bungled and played into the hands of the BJP when they announced rather stupidly the abrogation of the Armed Special Forces Act and sedition from the statute books. Needless to say they are seen as being soft on antinational forces. Why did they do so? Is the responsibility only of Mr P Chidambaram, its chief draftsman, I cannot say. But on the whole all this has played extremely well into the hands of the NDA: it has emboldened them to show themselves as being the sole opponents of Pakistan, of Islamic Terror and corruption. The recent activities of the ED and the courts which seem to be closing the noose around the Nehru-Gandhi family in various alleged scams notably the Augusta Westland scam, the land grabbing scams of Mr Robert Vadra may have put Congress’s first family on the back-foot. But that doesn’t mean that their spirits are in any way dampened. On the contrary, their attacks against Mr Modi - chowkidar chor hai- have become even more acerbic but given Mr Modi’s art of turning everything to his advantage, that too might end up boosting Mr Modi’s Main Bhi Chowkidar image building. The only thing going for the Congress right now is its victory in the three states in December last year and its economical surgical strike in terms of NYAY of giving Rs.6000 per month to 20% of India's poorest. If that works for the Congress, it could work wonders. Otherwise everything stands against the Congress. My argument in favour of a third front government is based on the premise that the three largest states of India Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal do not see the two dominant National parties performing well at all. In fact it is the regional parties the SP-BSP-RLD coalition in UP, the RJD-dominated coalition in Bihar and the TMC in West Bengal that will effectively put paid to the BJP's national ambitions of forming a majority government on its own strength. As far as South India is concerned there is no doubt that Kerala will go in the way of the UPA, be it LDF or UDF; there is no doubt that there will be a tough contest in Karnataka between the NDA and the UPA; as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned I strongly feel that the DMK-Congress alliance will have an edge over the AIADMK-BJP alliance; the TRS and YSR-Congress, who will dominate Telangana and Andhra, will, in the end, want an elevated role in a third front government but if pushed against the wall, prefer the NDA over the UPA. On the whole the South seems slightly more inclined towards the UPA. Gujarat and to a lesser degree Maharashtra, despite impressive attacks by Congress, will once again support the Modi-Shah combine. In Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the BJP have made great recoveries. It is only in Chhattisgarh where the BJP has lost all hope that the Congress stands a chance of a 10 to 1 victory- but that would depend on the Modi factor. In this election there is no BJP, there is only the Modi factor. Mr Modi has presented himself quite successfully- if not entirely accurately- as a world leader who can take on Pakistan, who can take on corruption, who can take on the establishment, who can take on the terrorists and all of this seem to be playing into the ultra-patriotic, ultra-nationalistic narrative espoused by the BJP. The Congress, through sheer stupidity, is falling into its trap. Their Manifesto promise to scrape the Armed Special Forces Act, to scrape laws against sedition, have only served to paint Congress as a pro-terrorist, pro-Pakistan party. It is most unfortunate because nothing could be farther from the truth. The media as far as I see it and specially the electronic media, with minor exceptions, are totally one-sided. The projections that are being made out are overwhelmingly in favour of the NDA and the BJP and they do not reflect ground realities as far as Chhattisgarh is concerned. The way things are moving, the mainstream media, armed with infinite powers of information-dissemination and opinion-formation that technology has put at its disposal, has replaced party structures as the main vehicle for publicity and propaganda. That media, with minor exceptions, now plays into the hands of government and so the political propaganda machinery of respective political parties, specially non-cadre based parties, is becoming increasingly redundant, at best playing second fiddle to media. In areas where caste still dominates, social and regional assertions may well keep Mr Modi at bay. But as far as the Congress is concerned, its attempt to place itself as a viable alternative to the BJP in the national narrative doesn't seem to be working out. Mr Modi has an edge. It cannot be denied. Mr Rahul Gandhi despite his many metamorphoses over the last two years to become A Serious Man continues to disappoint. Never before have the elections been so bitter, so personal, and that is very sad for the country. Statesmanship has given way to petty petty politicking and that is indeed shameful and demeaning for India. One can only hope that once this election is over and done with, the leaders who have won and the leaders who have lost will come and sit together, settle their personal differences and take forward this nation into the bowels of the 21st century.
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Amit Aishwarya Jogi
Anugrah, Civil Lines
Raipur- 492001
Chhattisgarh, INDIA
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