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Opposition parties appear to have fallen into the trap of Modi-centric elections

By NS Venkataraman* 
                                       
As India is now passing through parliamentary election with more than 950 million   citizens having right to exercise their franchise,  what is unique about this election is the widely believed foregone conclusion that Mr. Narendra Modi would win the election. As a matter of fact, most people do not say that BJP,   the party that Mr. Modi belongs to,  would win the election but restrict themselves to say that Mr. Modi would win the election.  
Several  discerning observers  are of the view that Mr. Modi  himself has created such situation by naming his party’s election manifesto as “Modi Guarantee”. The opposition parties (said to be 26 or more) appear to have fallen into the trap and have  carried out their  election campaign  largely focusing on Mr. Modi as a person. In other words, the theme of the election seem to have  become “vote for Mr. Modi or vote against Mr. Modi”. This theme has provided  overwhelming advantage for Mr. Modi over others,  both within his own party and  in the opposition parties. 

Mr. Modi’s performance

The fact is that even the most bitter critic of Mr. Modi cannot deny in the heart of heart  that Mr. Modi’s performance as Prime Minister of India for the last ten years has been consistent in style, tone and action  and has been,  by and  large,  positive governance. 
While India is a vast country with multiple languages,  religions and habits, priorities and traditional practice amongst people, it is not possible for any  Prime Minister to satisfy everyone in one stroke.  Over the last ten years,
Mr. Modi has earnestly  attempted to achieve this impossible task.
The policy measures initiated by Mr. Modi  have been  focused not only on growth of economy and industry but  Mr. Modi  has also attempted to  focus on the individual lifestyle of people  by launching nationwide yoga programme, clean India campaign and so on. Several schemes initiated by Mr. Modi to empower those in the below poverty line  by constructing millions of toilets, initiating free house scheme,  zero balance account for poor etc. have been received well by the people.  
Certainly, all the measures initiated by Mr. Modi in the last ten years has seen reasonable level of success,  though most of them are still in the work in progress stage but looking positive.
The leadership that Mr. Modi provided during the grave crisis due to Covid and  his  successful  efforts to motivate the Indian scientists to develop vaccine to treat Covid  have been applauded not only in India but around the world. Mr. Modi sent such vaccine free of charge to several developing countries,  indicating his  global concern and vision.
In tackling the issues with  China and Pakistan and keeping India’s head high  in reacting to the global events,  Mr. Modi has created a  sense of confidence  amongst the Indians living in India and abroad.

Main concern:

The main concern of the people of India is the widespread corruption in the government and in the public and private sector institutions.
Mr.Modi did promise during   2014 and 2019  parliamentary elections that he would wipe out corruption in India.
 It is to the credit of Mr.Modi that  he has  ensured that  his ministers and top  bureaucrats in the central government have not been known to indulge in any corruption.
Obviously, Mr. Modi  has thought that corruption in India could be wiped out only by promoting transparency in governance and he has  taken several measures to promote digitalisation   and transfer of welfare money to the people from government by bank  transfer  etc.   Certainly, corruption is still prevalent in India and  Mr. Modi still has a long way to go in keeping his promise to root out corruption in India.  There are  positive signals  that
Mr. Modi’s crusade against corruption would continue to the logical end.
Lack of positive campaign by opposition parties :
During the ongoing campaign by opposition parties in the parliamentary election, no worthwhile alternate policy measures,  that could be better than what Mr. Modi did have been convincingly announced. On the other hand, the opposition parties have reduced their  standard of campaign by using abusive language against Mr. Modi such as liar, Hitler, dictator, thief and so on.  Such abusive language used by the opposition parties  seem to have decreased their credibility in the eyes of the people, as  nobody doubts
Mr. Modi’s personal integrity and sense of patriotism and courage of conviction. 

Battle lost before it has begun:

At present, two phases of poll have been completed and the remaining five phases  would  take place in the next one month. It appears that the opposition parties have lost the battle even before it has begun.
Mr. Modi has been travelling around the nook  and corner of the country and constantly speaking about what he calls as Modi guarantee.  In the last few weeks,  several organizations abroad have issued statements about the so called unemployment scenario in India,  so called human rights violation etc. But, such campaign from abroad have not cut the ice with the people, as these issues  have been  highly exaggerated.
As the election has now become a comparative issue of Mr. Modi as a person with that of other opposition leaders,  the opposition leaders,  who lead family controlled and dynastic parties, seem to have lost the race conclusively.
The election scenario  is marked by rhetoric and noise but is conspicuous by absence of excitement about  results. 
---
*Trustee,Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai

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