COVID-19 throws new challenges to Modi 2.0 govt

COVID-19 shadow over first anniversary of Modi 2.0 government

PTI/File photo

As Modi 2.0 government completes its one year in office on May 30 amid the devastating impact of the worldwide pandemic COVID-19, the mood is sombre even as the ruling BJP and the Opposition is locked into a fierce blame game.

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The party has lined up a month- long programme of digital rallies and public reach out through events like Facebook Live but celebrations have been muted keeping in view the Covid crisis.

For the ruling BJP, the pandemic has exposed the glaring loopholes in our health care system and the massive employment challenge that came out in open during the massive migrant crisis that unfolded as the Modi government decided to clamp a national lockdown to ward off the evil impact of the pandemic.

As there was no let down in cases despite more than two months of lockdown, the Opposition seized the opportunity and trained guns on the government also blaming it for  ‘messy management” of migrant issues. BJP responded by releasing a booklet alleging how Rahul Gandhi is “weakening” the national resolve to fight the COVID-19.

BJP is confident that the Modi 2.0 government, which has in the pre-pandemic period, fulfilled its core promises like abolition of Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir and resolution of the vexed Ram Temple issue by the Supreme Court in favour of the Hindu side besides taking many “long-term institutional reforms” is still popular and Modi faces no formidable challenge. The passage of triple talaq bill in July last year was also hailed in the Parivaar backyard as moving towards the realisation of the dream of Uniform Civil Code, besides a milestone for gender justice.

However, electoral gains these emotive issues have eluded the saffron party, which lost two party-ruled states Maharashtra and Jharkhand and failed to break the Delhi jinx losing it once again in 2020 despite a high octane election campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah amid nationwide protests by sections of people against CAA, which the BJP has been projecting as justice to Hindus being persecuted in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

In Haryana also the party could barely manage to retain its government with the help of a new ally, while in Maharashtra NDA also had its oldest ally Shiv Sena, which later aligned with opposition parties to form a government.

This has dented to some extent the aura of invincibility surrounding the duo—Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Delhi riots had a big dent in the over-all image of the government.

In 2020, Bihar will go to polls in which the NDA government is led by JDU’s Nitish Kumar. Despite all not so well in Nitish-BJP ties, the two could stick together as neither has an option. In West Bengal despite winning nine time more Lok Sabha seats than in 2014, BJP’s popularity now seems petering away ahead of 2021 assembly polls. The party is, however, confident of a change of power in the state even as it lost in assembly by-polls held in the state months after Lok Sabha polls.

On the economic front, the merger of 10 public sector banks in four banks this year was hailed as a bold decision. Modi’s recent ‘atmanirbhar Bharat’ pitch, giving thrust to locally made goods has, also warmed the hearts of the Swadeshi warriors in the saffron family  but what will matter more is how people respond to the Rs 20 lakh crore package announced by Modi post COVID-19 to help the poor and the farmers and bring economy out of the tailspin it finds itself in.

While a Congress survey says 76 percent of people unhappy with the Modi government, a survey by Local Circles says 62 percent people are satisfied with Modi government’s handling of COVID-19. Well surveys had hardly predicted the pulse of the people either way.

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