In the time of a national crisis, one would expect parties to rise above partisan politics and display a sense of unity to take on the challenge in the interests of the people. However, going by political shenanigans in Rajasthan and Gujarat for the Rajya Sabha elections or the content of speeches in the ‘virtual’ political rallies, it appears that partisan politics has taken precedence over national duty to build a consensus on fighting the public health crisis. The game of one-upmanship makes a mockery of the need for national unity to overcome the grave challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic. While people are reeling under the impact of a surge in Covid-19 cases, politicians in the poll-bound States are obsessed with power politics. Ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, the Congress-ruled Rajasthan is witnessing an ugly display of politics of poaching and inducement. The ruling party has moved its MLAs to a resort, ostensibly to ward off the BJP’s attempts to destabilise the government. There are serious allegations that the saffron party has been trying to lure the Congress and independent legislators, on the lines of what happened in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat in the recent past, to unseat the government. The widening rift between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot has only worsened the situation, offering a perfect opening for the saffron party to fish in troubled waters.
In fact, the BJP comes across as a party in a tearing hurry to put its opponents on tenterhooks all the time. Irrespective of the magnitude of the public health crisis gripping the country, it wants to keep the powder dry and sustain pressure on the rivals. Union Home Minister and former party president Amit Shah held “virtual” rallies in poll-bound Bihar, apart from Odisha and West Bengal. Over 72,000 LED TVs were installed all over Bihar to facilitate his outreach. This appears grotesque at a time when millions of the urban poor have returned to Bihar in abject conditions and the State is woefully short of funds to cope with the influx. Similar aggression is on display in West Bengal where elections are due in April next year. His virtual ‘Jan Samvad’ rally for West Bengal virtually sounded the poll bugle, forcing other major parties to switch to election mode. Last month, the BJP released a nine-point “charge-sheet” against the Mamata Banerjee government and even launched a social media drive christened “Aar Noi Mamata” (No more Mamata’s rule). Over 1,000 virtual rallies are now on the cards. The issues unrelated to the current pandemic like Article 370, Citizenship Amendment Act, Ayodhya and Triple Talaq form the core themes of such rallies.
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