The 2014 general elections are well underway and going by the look of things, the BJP seems to have an upper hand.
This time around, the election will stretch over a period of more than a month and when all this started, one expected some kind of exhaustion to seep in as we approached the middle of the season. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at all: The three top leaders — the BJP’s Narendra Modi, the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi and AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal — are crisscrossing the country like men possessed to campaign for their party’s respective candidates and are enthusiastically raking up issues ranging from personal to political against each other to get maximum media coverage and votes.
The quality of debate, as we have said over and over again, has been sinking every day, with almost everyone giving the real issues a miss.
The last we heard the parties talk about pertinent subjects was in their manifestos, but even in that race, there were no clear winners: All three are high on promises but terribly low on what needs to be done and the roadmap ahead.
So it becomes all the more imperative for leaders to tell us how they plan to tackle the problems. But catch them doing that. The next phase, the fifth of the nine phases, starts on April 17.
So it was not surprising to see the Congress read the riot act to its 11 chief ministers (the states account for 151 Lok Sabha seats). The message is clear: Shape up or ship out. In other words, they will be replaced if they don’t deliver the goods.
The BJP, of course, is not in such dire straits with all reports showing that it will sweep the stakes in the states it rules.
What is interesting to note at this point are the games that regional parties are playing; clearly, they are waiting and watching and will go for the kill after the final results are out. On Sunday, the AIADMK boss, who herself has prime ministerial ambitions, and Mr Modi attacked each other in Chennai.
At a rally in the Cauvery belt, Ms Jayalalithaa accused the BJP of “betrayal” and of being no different from the Congress on the contentious issue of water-sharing between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The BJP leader accused Ms Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK and its arch-rival the DMK of being unconcerned about the welfare of the people and only focusing on battling each other.
In Bengal too, chief minister Mamata Banerjee is keeping everyone guessing by saying that Indians were “wise” enough to know that they shouldn’t replace the “corrupt Congress government” with one led by the “communal” BJP. Now take a guess which way the wind is blowing!