With every passing day as polling dates draw nearer, the election campaign in India is getting starkly split along ideological and development directions. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi is busy campaigning on the party’s ideology, this time, in its extreme form. This is unlike 2014 when the PM Modi mostly fought the election on hope and development. True, his connection to 2002 Gujarat riots was a matter of some honour for his supporters. They remembered it as the time when Muslims were taught a lesson. And this is why Modi has traditionally been shy of apologising for the killing of around 1000 Muslims under his watch. But then he also tried to diversify his image and add to it the dimensions of a good organizer, administrator and the promoter of Gujarats economic development. And through his 2014 campaign he put accent on his image of an economic reformer. And it clicked. He won a majority in the election on his own.
But this time, Modi as the PM has chosen to play down his development mantra. And for obvious reasons. His unhelpful record on this front stands in the way. So, the PM has brought his party’s ideology in play. Kashmir, Pakistan, terrorism, security has become its staple issues. The BJP has taken recourse to its longstanding ideological position on J&K which in recent years has found increasing resonance with a significant section of the population across the country. The BJP has aggressively raked up issues about the troubled state to mobilize support in the rest of the country.
But, on the other hand, the Congress has aggressively plied a development agenda. Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s NYAY scheme promising Rs 72000 crore to the 20 per cent of the poorest families in India could turn out to be a game changer in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. People, under the scheme will get money, if their income was less than the minimum Income, “irrespective of whoever they are whichever state they lived in or religion they followed and whatever language they spoke”. The money is sought to be deposited in the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
In its manifesto, the grand old party has said that the loan default by farmers would not send them to jail and that such default will be treated as a civil offence. The party also promised 22 lakh government jobs by next March. Slowly and steadily, the Congress has shifted the battlefield to economy while Modi has determinedly stuck to nationalism, security and terror. At the root, however, the contest is once again about the two ideas of India. And which is what makes it so critical for the country. The poll outcome will thus determine the ideological and development course of the country over the next five years. And here’s hoping it is a course that is equally salutary for the minorities of the country.
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