If Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP had thought that the Pulwama terror attack and the IAF strikes on a terror camp in Balakot in Pakistan had put the Opposition on a clear back foot in the run-up to the 2019 general election, they could not have gotten it more wrong. Congress president Rahul Gandhi lauded the IAF pilots on their feat and announced that the Opposition stands with the government in times of exigency.
By doing so, he, most importantly, put paid to the ruling dispensation’s attempts to turn jingoistic nationalism into an election issue. While continuing to corner the government over the alleged irregularities in the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, in which the Attorney General’s histrionics in the Supreme Court played a big role, the Congress has sent out a clear message through its rally in Gujarat that it is not going to soft pedal on issues like lack of employment, disastrous decisions like Demonetisation and implementation of an ill-conceived GST regime, farm distress, a stagnating economy, low exports, lack of safety and empowerment of women, destruction of institutions, among other issues.
These are questions the BJP government is clearly not comfortable with. The Congress strategy was also buttressed home by the party’s general secretary, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who said mundane issues should not become talking points in an election.
The lowest farm income growth in the last 14 years has been delivered by the Narendra Modi government. In spite of the tall claims of the government about creation of jobs, the reality is for everyone to see. India’s unemployment rate has touched its lowest in 45 years
War hysteria and jingoistic chest thumping cannot alleviate the acute crisis that has plagued Indian agriculture which sustains about 60% of the country’s people. Farming has become an unviable profession under the present regime
The lowest farm income growth in the last 14 years has been delivered by the Narendra Modi government. In spite of the tall claims of the government about creation of jobs, the reality is for everyone to see. India’s unemployment rate has touched its lowest in 45 years. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has to borrow money to pay salaries. BSNL employees are also not being paid on time. Faculty and researchers at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, one of the country’s foremost research facilities, are being paid 50% of their salaries.
Navratna companies like ONGC are being pushed to declare dividends to mitigate the government’s revenue shortfall. And while all these take place, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi team up in London and open a new shell company just on the eve of elections. None of these issues can be solved by waging a war with Pakistan. The PM’s disastrous handling of matters of national importance has brought the country to the precipice of disaster. The Congress and other Opposition parties must harp on these points so that voters know that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi do not have the cure for the havoc they have wreaked on India’s people.