Rivals’ desperate poll alliances show Modi is still formidable

Saturday was a significant day for poll-bound India. Two regional, socialist parties, which were bitter rivals for decades, forged an alliance in a state that sends maximum MPs to Parliament.

An hour after the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) made their joint announcement in Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the poll bugle in New Delhi for his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BSP-SP tie-up came out of compulsion to stop the BJP juggernaut. Added to it was the belief that the party or alliance that wins UP polls will rule India.

The BSP-SP combine has left the rear door ajar for parties like Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal to join them by not contesting four seats to ensure their victory.

In his 90-minute speech, Modi mocked the efforts being made by Opposition parties to form a grand coalition which he called a failed experiment by citing how previous governments under former prime ministers like VP Singh, IK Gujral, Chandra Shekhar and Deve Gowda were short-lived.

The latest efforts for a grand coalition to defeat ‘one man’ — Modi himself — expose the desperation, weakness and helplessness of the Opposition.

Modi assured delegates at BJP’s national convention that the upcoming parliamentary polls are going to be fought and won over issues that affect people’s lives and not through a campaign of canards by the Opposition against the prime minister.

Indian democracy has matured and voters know who they want as their ‘prime servant’ (prime minister). They can choose between a man (Rahul Gandhi) who spends months on vacation abroad and one (Modi) who works tirelessly without taking a break, he said.

Mayawati, leader of BSP, claimed her party’s alliance with SP will give sleepless nights to BJP leaders forgetting the fact that SP’s chief Akhilesh is facing investigation over a mining scandal.

BJP is hoping to repeat its 2014 election victory in the upcoming polls. People of UP overwhelmingly voted for the saffron party five years back as they were fed up with corrupt Congress governments which ruled the country for decades leaving their state poor and backward.

BJP is expecting another clean sweep in UP as the federal government under Modi has fulfilled its promises to voters by curbing corruption and focusing on collective efforts and inclusive growth.

In his Saturday’s speech, Modi warned that his government will spare no corrupt individual unlike during the previous regime which forced banks to serve wealthy clients and go easy on loan defaulters.
Weakling parties with tainted leaders are joining hands ahead of parliamentary elections to save themselves through a regime change. A desperate situation is forcing them to seek desperate measures. The SP-BSP alliance is to be seen as one such step.

Opposition leaders are constantly hurling abuses at the prime minister, manufacturing lies on an India-France fighter jets deal and shamelessly defending an extradited British arms dealer who is being questioned over a chopper deal linked to the previous government.

Such continuous bombardment of blatant lies led by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi cannot turn lies into truths or half-truths.

Rafale fighter jet deal is a case in point. The government-to-government defence deal precludes kickbacks. After the Opposition questioned the procedure and pricing of the deal, the Supreme Court heard the government’s defence and examined sensitive documents of pricing enclosed in a sealed cover. The top court ruled that the government followed the procedure and underlined the urgent need to acquire the fighter jets to safeguard the nation’s security.

The opposition shifted the goal posts. They were not satisfied with the court’s view and demanded an investigation by the joint parliamentary committee. The matter was debated in parliament and defence and finance ministers gave a point-to-point rebuttal of the charges levelled by opposition on the Rafale deal.

When Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was speaking on the deal, Rahul’s cronies were flying paper planes in Parliament. Later, when Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman was explaining the deal, many MPs in the Opposition benches were not even listening to her.
The next day, Rahul expressed his dissatisfaction over Seetharaman’s arguments. He wanted to debate the issue with Modi himself. If Rahul has no answers to the questions posed by Jaitley and Seetharaman, what is the point in dragging Modi into the debate?

Rahul either did not follow what the two ministers said or he is acting. One can wake a man up if he is sleeping but not when he is pretending to be asleep.

Rahul must wake up to the reality surrounding the Rafale deal.