The logic of electoral arithmetic, which ought to have given the Congress-JD(S) combine a head start, is considerably weakened by the alliance’s failure to establish an ideological counter-narrative to the BJP.
There is not much reception to the latest electoral exercise in Jammu and Kashmir, but political parties expect voters to turn out in good numbers as they know that unless they elect the right candidates the BJP will gain politically by installing its proxies.
Non-BJP political parties’ campaign for the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the eight north-eastern States focusses on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, with the Congress making the Bill its key electoral plank.
The party poses a tough challenge to the Trinamool Congress in the five north Bengal constituencies where voting will take place in the first two phases of the election which voters perceive as a precursor of the 2021 Assembly election.
Maharashtra sees the BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP alliances sticking together after initial hiccups and the newly formed Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi tying up with the AIMIM with an eye on Dalit and Muslim votes.
The Kejriwal government’s focus on building infrastructure, teacher development and bringing a qualitative improvement in government schools is something the Centre and other States will do well to emulate.
Institutions of the Indian state faced their worst challenge during the Narendra Modi years. The Planning Commission has been replaced with the NITI Aayog, the Election Commission has been manipulated to the ruling party’s advantage, the CBI has not been allowed to function impartially, and judicial independence has been tampered with to a large extent.
The cash transfer schemes the Narendra Modi government and several State governments have announced to woo the peasantry ahead of the election, like the loan waivers, short-change farmers because they avoid the vital issue of remunerative prices for farm produce.
From powerlooms in Bhiwandi, knitwear in Tiruppur and fireworks in Sivakasi to MSMEs in Ghaziabad, small industry across India, hit by demonetisation and the introduction of GST, is trying to stay afloat.
Narendra Modi’s demonetisation, unprecedented in global economic history, is likely to have fundamentally altered Indians’ expectation of stability of the national currency system and irreparably harmed the credibility of national institutions.
Despite the Clean India campaign and a 2013 Act that expressly prohibits manual scavenging, there has been no effort to prosecute violators of the law or to prevent the death of manual scavengers while at work, not to speak of plans for their rehabilitation.
Anganwadis, which provide crucial support to children belonging to economically backward and marginalised communities, have been hit hard by the reduction in budgetary support for the ICDS by the Central government.