I could not agree more when an eminent and a highly accomplished person from the legal fraternity told me this morning that none of the ruling parties, barring perhaps the TMC in West Bengal and the DMK in Tamil Nadu, will come back to power whenever elections are held. Narendra Modi, in his ‘man ki baath’ on Sunday had claimed that his government has been doing a good and efficient job in combating the second wave of Covid -19. K. Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) has been congratulating himself for the excellent work his government is doing. YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Andhra Pradesh chief minister, who has just laid foundation stone virtually for 14 medical colleges in the state, thinks he is doing a good job. Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh has a great opinion of his government’s performance during Covid times, notwithstanding the floating bodies in the Ganges. Whatever might the rulers think or say about their governance, the experience of the people is what ultimately matters in elections.
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If in a village with one thousand population, ten persons die of covid what would be the reaction of the people in that village? What do they think of the government and the rulers after witnessing their people losing the battle with Covid due to lack of hospital beds, oxygen and ventilators? What would be the mood of the family members who lost their loved one due to lack of all these basic facilities to fight corona? Would they forgive the governments which did not bother to order vaccine in advance, recognize the second wave in time and failed to take minimum measures to combat the same? They would give vent to their anger, frustration and anguish when the time comes- elections.
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Barkha Dutt, the celebrated jouranist who has been boldly facing uncivilized trolling by Modi bhakts, did an extraordinary job of counting the dead bodies floating in Ganges. She herself was tested positive and spent twenty days in isolation is a very precarious condition. Then she lost her beloved father to covid. In spite of all the setbacks, she undertook a journey by sitting on a pillion of a bike and then traveling by a boat on the river with the help of a couple of youngsters to find out how many bodies were dropped in the Ganges. She said she counted not less than thousand bodies. The bodies don’t figure in the data of the dead put out by the Yogi government in UP.
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The information given by the State governments and the Union government indicate only the tip of the iceberg. The factual numbers are left to New York Times to guess and publish. The reality is a number of youngsters died in the second wave. It is true of all the states. What would the youth who have been admirers of Narendra Modi think about his performance during April 2021 when the second wave was at its peak?
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Why is the Union Government angry with social media now? How come a party that attained power mostly on account of social media, by influencing the people through religious discourse and divisive politics, is complaining against the same social media today? The social media is giving truthful information of what has been happening to the people on the ground. Social media which brought the BJP to power in 2014 as well as 2019 will divest the party of power in 2024 or whenever elections are held.
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One might ask who is the alternative to Modi, KCR of Jagan. The people are not bothered about the alternative which would emerge on its own. They did not think of alternative when they threw Indira Gandhi out of power in 1977. They did not dream Morarji Desai would become prime minister. There were many leaders in the opposition at that time. The people are not bothered whether they are leaders to replace the present rulers. They vote against those whom they are angry with.
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Rahul Gandhi may not become prime minister but Modi will go. Jana Reddy or Uttam Kumar Reddy or Kishan Reddy may not become chief minister of Telangana but KCR has to go. Same is the case with Jagan Mohan Reddy. That is how people reacted forty four years back. The present experience is far worse than the experience during the Emergency. Then leaders were jailed and common people saw their rights being suspended for a couple of years. Now it is mass destruction. People in thousands lost their lives since the health infrastructure was so poor in the country. The governments have walked out of health and education allowing the private corporate sector to rule the roost.
There is only one way of redemption available to the present ruling parties. They have to allocate more than 15 percent of their budgets from now on for health and more than 10 percent to education. They have to release and invest the allocated funds. The governments have to come back into health and education sectors in a big and unprecedented way to reassure the people that their priorities have been changed. If they do it sincerely from now people might conclude that the rulers have learnt the right lessons and give a benefit of doubt. Otherwise no amount of “positive publicity” will help the ruling parties either at the centre or in the states.
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