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Every poll suggests that the BJP is poised for victory

We live in strange times --- politically, at least.

Contrast the mood of the Opposition and the mood of this government and you will see that the two views of the political situation are in complete contrast to each other.


The Opposition is on a high. It believes that the government’s abject failure to handle the second wave of the pandemic and the disaster of the vaccination programme have left the regime weak and vulnerable. It also believes that neither the prime minister (PM) nor the home minister have recovered from the drubbing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received in the Bengal elections and are much less confident of their popularity throughout the country.


   And now, the Pegasus hacking scandal, the Opposition believes, will be the knockout blow. Revelations that the private information of industrialists, politicians, journalists and many others was hacked has shocked the nation. It has also raised, the Opposition says, serious questions about governance in the Modi-era. Why, for instance, was the phone of the lady who accused the chief justice of India (CJI) of sexual harassment hacked? Was the information acquired this way, asks the Opposition, used to pressure the CJI? Does this explain the string of Supreme Court judgments that so pleased the government?


   On the other hand, the government is much less worried than the Opposition thinks it should be. It has worked out that the only way to recover from the Bengal defeat is to suggest that the winning Trinamool Congress (TMC) is now conducting a pogrom against Hindus on behalf of its Muslim votebank. Day after day, this theme is echoed by BJP leaders, their proxies and by their social media glove puppets.


   The government knows that Bengal is lost for the next five years, but it hopes that the claims of anti-Hindu violence will reinforce one of the BJP’s election-winning planks throughout the country--the notion that Hindus are under threat from Muslims, backed by the so-called secular parties.


   On Covid, it became clear during the second wave, that the government had not only lost control of the situation, it was also reconciled to sitting it out till the wave receded. Its focus was on preventing a third wave.


   Have its failures during the second wave harmed the government? The Opposition thinks it has but the government believes that a) public memory is short and b) if it can rewrite the truth about its vaccine failures, it may convince some voters. Hence the constant untruths about how successful the vaccine programme has been and the publicity campaign about the generosity of the PM in arranging free vaccines for Indians.


"Mr. Modi’s strategy is to wait for the UP election and to restrict all criticism to a bare minimum."

   All this has been accompanied by a flurry of activity designed to change the narrative and to suggest that the PM is back in firm control. The first such initiative was the Kashmir outreach. It is still not clear what, if anything, will come of this initiative but at least it took the focus away from Covid.


   Then there has been the reshuffle with its focus on younger, more meritocratic ministers and its carefully crafted caste strategy.


   The sacking of the hapless Dr Harsh Vardhan was meant to send out the message that Mr Modi’s ministers had let him down but that the PM had now reshuffled his team to help him serve the Indian people better.


   Has all of this worked?


   In my view, it would be foolish to deny that it has had a positive impact on the government’s image. Mr. Modi no longer seems like the ineffectual, distant figure he appeared to be during the second wave. He seems, once again, like a man who is back in action, firmly in charge of things.


   The Opposition hopes that Pegasus will change all that. It might well but frankly, I am sceptical. The scandal only reaffirms what Mr Modi’s critics have always said: That his government intrudes on civil liberties and invades privacy. So no surprises there.


   Yes, his critics will say they are appalled by the revelations. But will it mean very much to the average voter? Or will it just be treated as yet another instance of politicians spying on each other?


   The government thinks that the scandal will have little long-term impact. And so far, at least, the regime has emerged relatively unscathed from the scandal.


   Plus, there is one other factor. The Opposition has pinned its hopes on Uttar Pradesh (UP) where Yogi Adityanath is said to be unpopular and where Covid was expected to keep cutting a deadly swathe through the rural areas.


   But, in fact, Covid deaths in UP have gone down, and every poll suggests that the BJP is poised for victory. Nor have the Opposition parties in UP launched their campaigns with the ferocity one might have expected.


   Mr. Modi’s strategy is to wait for the UP election and to restrict all criticism to a bare minimum. Newspaper groups (such as Dainik Bhaskar) and TV channels which have dared focus on the failures of the regime have been raided and intimidated. While government officials have pointed to the grounds for such raids, no one can deny that the optics look bad.


   Then, when the BJP romps home in the UP election, it will declare that Mr Modi’s troubles are over and that he is back to being the strongest PM in nearly 50 years.


   At the moment, it looks like he may pull that off.


   Until the next crisis comes along.




  • Biswajit Dasgupta 10 Aug 2021

    Yes, the congress is well going down a path of destruction and the opposition is united on a very flimsy ideology. With the lack of a decent opposition, BJP will probably win but not because of their great governance but because of lack of alternatives. Because whenever decent alternatives existed, BJP lost.
    And Ramamoorthy - how long can the Congress be the scapegoat for every failure of BJP? Life is not black and white - blind folded devotion is dangerous

  • Ramamoorthy 24 Jul 2021

    The only thing that scares me about this article regarding BJP is that Vir thinks BJP will win. Now that's a matter of concern as a BJP supporter. Vir has himself admitted, his predictions are woefully often wrong. Yikes. God save the supreme leader. lol.

  • Ramamoorthy 24 Jul 2021

    The opposition is practicing the Nazi trick of 'accuse the other side of that which you are guilty'. Corruption, snooping, treachery (lol), etc. The Pegasus thing is terrible optics for Congres because it just looks like a party run by a Westerner working in tandem with the west to attack a patriotic son of the soil. It's a western 'regime' change operation. And BJP progressed massively in Bengal. It's the main opp. party. That's a success of sorts and post poll massacres are real.

Posted On: 23 Jul 2021 08:20 PM
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