Cut-throat competition, blitzkrieg campaigning and verbal spats: Election fever takes over India

All political parties in India are pulling up their socks to put their best foot forward in the campaigning game
Last Updated : 13 April 2024, 06:21 IST
Last Updated : 13 April 2024, 06:21 IST

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Good morning dear readers, and welcome to another edition of DH's weekly Political Theatre!

With the Lok Sabha elections inching closer day by day, all political parties in India are pulling up their socks to put their best foot forward in the campaigning game. Over the past week, we were privy to some of the most entertaining debates and 'interesting digs' political leaders took at each other.

The big unveiling

The week commenced with Congress unveiling its much sought-after manifesto. Keeping the name on-brand, they termed the manifesto 'Nyay Patra', promising  a “decisive break from the path of the past 10 years” .

Considering recent times, in what may come as relief to many politicians, the party also promised to make "bail the rule" and "jail the exception".

However, despite broad claims in their many speeches, there was an eerie silence on issues like Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and restoration of Article 370 in the manifesto. But, the Communist Party of India (CPI) got one over Congress as they clearly stated in their newly released manifesto that they will scrap CAA.

On the other hand, PM Modi, who never leaves any opportunity to verbally attack the Congress, declared their manifesto to be an ‘imprint’ of the Muslim League and Leftist ideology.

Upping their verbal game

As the battle draws to a close, all parties are rushing in with guns blazing. In the aftermath of releasing the manifesto the Congress promised to launch a "campaign blitzkrieg" in which they are planning to hold rallies across the length and breadth of the country either with other I.N.D.I.A. bloc leaders like M K Stalin or on their own.

At one of these Blitzkrieg rallies in Telangana, Rahul Gandhi voiced his displeasure at the Enforcement Directorate and said the full form of ED should instead be 'Extortion Directorate'.

On the other front, this week witnessed a verbal spat between Mamata Banerjee and Narendra Modi over attack on National Investigation Agency's officers in Bengal. Modi claimed, "The TMC government seeks to have a free pass for looting and terror in Bengal. To shield its extortionist and corrupt leaders, the TMC orchestrates attacks on central investigative agencies when they come here.”

While Banerjee countered with saying that NIA and ED are the "arms" of the saffron party.

On Friday BJP got another chance to take a dig at TMC. Two accused in Bengaluru's Rameshwaram blast were caught in West Bengal, which led the BJP to remark that the TMC regime has turned the state into a safe haven for terrorists.

In his classic politician way, the leader of the saffron party attacked the I.N.D.I.A. bloc members Rahul Gandhi and Lalu Prasad Yadav for allegedly eating mutton during the month of 'sawan'.

Auld lang syne

Shifting of loyalties is rite of passage during election time in India. It is hard to keep to track with so many politicians changing sides. Thus, to make it easier for you, dear reader, we bring forth this week's confederacy of resignations:

Delhi Minister Raaj Kumar Anand announced on Wednesday that he will be resigning from AAP due to corruption on part of the party and their ignorance towards Dalits.

However, the party cleverly shifted the argument in their favour by saying that this is BJP's tactic to “break and finish” the party and Anand is scared of going to jail.

Another prominent shift took place in Congress . Party spokesperson and former social media chief Rohan Gupta resigned from the party to join the BJP.

After joining the party, he even made jibes at Congress’s communications in-charge Jairam Ramesh, saying, "There is a communication in-charge who has ‘Ram’ in his name, who told us to keep quiet when Sanatan (Dharma) was being insulted. An alliance using the country’s name was made but ‘desh virodhi takatein’ (anti-India forces) were included in it. What is the compulsion that Kejriwal who was accused of being connected with Khalistanis today is being supported by them."

Trouble in Paradise

As Congress continues to plan its blitzkrieg campaign strategies, they might have run into some trouble way up north. Though they have cemented their seat-sharing formula with National Conference (NC) in Jammu and Kashmir, People's Democratic Party (PDP) has been left out of the bloc.

The PDP has blamed Omar Abdullah for ‘non-cooperation’ over seat-sharing talks.

However Abdullah defended his party by saying, “We (NC) didn’t out PDP, rather the situation has kept them out. The party (PDP) that stands on number 3 (in 2019 LS elections) has no right to ask for a seat.”

Abdullah will contest from Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency in north Kashmir.

Stories from Delhi

At the moment, the national capital is ground zero for all political activity. Along with the elections, the infamous Delhi excise policy scam case is also running its course. In a recent development, BRS leader K Kavitha has been sent to to CBI remand till April 15. While Delhi court has issued notice ED, CBI on Manish Sisodia's plea for interim bail.

On the other hand, AAP's Atishi Marlena is dabbling in conspiracy theories. She has alleged that the BJP is trying to impose President's Rule in the national capital. She claims, "That's why Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the ED..."

Countering the dragon

China and its relations with India have always been a favourite drawing room discussion for Indians. Hence, it keeps making headlines even in today's electorally charged climate. In a continuation of the verbal spat, Congress slammed Modi for his "ineffective and feeble" response to China for its border transgressions.

Moreover, they demanded that he should apologise 'to 140 crore' Indians for his June 2020 statement that neither has entered India nor has anyone occupied any post.

On the other hand, in an interview with Newsweek, Modi emphasised that that stable and peaceful relations between India and China are of the utmost importance and he hopes to achieve it via 'constructive bilateral engagement at the diplomatic and military levels'.

Subtle passive aggressiveness
Only a true politician can throw the best jibes, making his point without getting in any trouble. This week we look at Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who raised the issue of the killing of a Khalistani Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar at a high-profile public inquiry looking into foreign interference in Canada’s electoral process.

He subtly said that his government has, "always stood up to defend minorities in Canada and the rights of minorities to speak out, even if it irritates their home countries overseas."

However, Modi threw his own 'shade' at Trudeau by proclaiming at a rally that under his government terrorists have been killed on their own turf.

Election fever in Karnataka

Karnataka has not been spared by the election fever which is slowly taking hold over the whole country. 53 candidates have withdrawn their nominations, which leaves 247 candidates for phase 2 of Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka.

On Thursday, B S Yediyurappa demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi for promoting "false propaganda" that the Modi administration would shut down the state-run HAL. He further slammed the Congress party for their claim that the Modi government has created joblessness.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah alleged that Nirmala Sitharaman lied when she said that the drought relief fund was not released because the Model Code of Conduct is in force.

And finally, the mystery around former Deputy Chief Minister and veteran BJP leader K S Eshwarappa candidacy comes to an end! Eshwarappa has filed nomination papers as an independent candidate for the Shivamogga constituency in the Lok Sabha polls.

Around the world

Though we are busy with our own political atmosphere, here are some global headlines which are of some importance. North Korea's Kim Jong Un has claimed that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has requested to hold a summit. US President Joe Biden says that he supports Kishida's decision.

The United States has sent its top military commander for the Middle East to Israel on Thursday, after President Joe Biden stated that, despite recent friction, American support for Israel “is ironclad” in the event of an attack by Iran.

Published 13 April 2024, 06:21 IST

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