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One hopes the means will honour the ends

The Lok Sabha polls are poised very interestingly at the halfway mark, with three of the seven phases completed by 7th May - and one month into the poll campaign. While there is no one issue that is dominating, a couple of narratives have held sway. The Opposition has been able to generate a debate […]

The Lok Sabha polls are poised very interestingly at the halfway mark, with three of the seven phases completed by 7th May - and one month into the poll campaign. While there is no one issue that is dominating, a couple of narratives have held sway. The Opposition has been able to generate a debate on caste based survey & the politics of reservations. The Congress, specially Rahul Gandhi has been very vocal in pitching the mandal plank against the BJP’s kamandal. More than Rahul, other opposition leaders such as Akhilesh Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav make more convincing votaries of the cause, especially Akhilesh with his PDA plank. This has lead the BJP to ratchet the Mandir issue with the PM and UP CM, Yogi Adiyanath making a high profile visit to Ayodhya right on the eve of the third phase. The politics of religion are very much part of the poll debate, but so are issues of jobs and employment. After a long time the Congress has come up with a very comprehensive Nyay Patra that focuses on the latter rather than playing on the BJP’s pitch and talking about minority (or majority) politics. The BJP did try to claim that the Congress manifesto was written at the behest of the Muslim league but that bizarre claim found few takers. Apart from the Congress, even other Opposition leaders were seen at TV studios with the Congress manifesto in hand, challenging the BJP to make good its claim. Even the drama over inheritance tax led to some interesting debates on what model India should follow - left leaning socialist or capitalist. Should wealth creators be feted or taxed? These make for more positive studio debates than those that degenerate into playing one religion against the other.

Although the BJP is still the dominant party and the Prime Minister the fulcrum of the election, the narrative is not as one sided as one had expected it to be. The crowd is not blindly chanting Modi-Modi but reacting on specific issues. The elections are also being fought on state issues and constituency wise. While the BJP still remains the best bet to deliver on the needs of the masses, the opposition has succeeded in making its presence felt. And in the best interests of democracy which demands a strong opposition, these are reassuring optics.

In the end, there is still a month to go and while may the best party win, one hopes the means will honour the ends.

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