ONe can’t fault the BJP for hanging on to a winning formula: nationalism. Elections are fought to be won, and it is political prudence to rely on a narrative that the party feels has resonance strong enough to sail past local everyday existential issues that require answers. That said, the ruling dispensation and the Opposition parties can’t escape scrutiny. Why, for instance, should an upbeat BJP, a ‘party with a difference’ that has seen ascendancy like none before, shy away from seeking a mandate on its governance record in Haryana and Maharashtra? Why should asking of questions be frowned upon? Why should even state elections be all about PM Modi?
Outwitted in the ‘strong-PM-strong-nation’ versus the ‘unsure-divided-unpatriotic’ pitch during the General Election, the Opposition has much to answer for this time around. It still seemingly hasn’t learnt much from the May 23 debacle. If issues such as rural distress, urban stress, unemployment, crime in the two states, all have to bow down before abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, it points to another lost opportunity for those taking on the BJP. Nationalism is not an easy debate to settle, but a clear articulation of where the parties stand would ensure that pressing issues that need urgent intervention get the space and voice they are entitled to. A free run to Article 370 as the election plank is sheer lack of political astuteness. The voters deserve better.
How dare the Opposition parties ask how the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir affects Maharashtra or Haryana, PM Modi said at an election rally the other day. The theme is unlikely to change till October 21, election day, considering how ‘nationalism’ plays out in these states with sizeable numbers in the armed forces. BJP’s phenomenal electoral success has much to do with Modi’s charisma. But then, he’s not up for re-election in Haryana or Maharashtra.