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March towards mandate

March towards mandate

Election year is quite an eventful one – supplying abundant drama to the dailies and laced with political machinations, unveiling surprising and strategic alliances. A feast for democracy as the nation comes together to elect a novel government which will robustly lead the nation. The collective wish is to see holistic development take the centre stage, which ought to be essentially the predominant objective of every government. Pros and cons of options influence the mandate as political parties desperately display their manifestos while subtly pointing out the lacunae in others. However, the subtlety gets diluted and the pointing out escalates to criticism. India has always stood at the fork where it has to choose between the two primary contestants – BJP and Congress – for the driver's seat. The decision regarding an alliance with either of the two becomes a round-table discussion for all the other parties – regionally strong but having a weak national impression. At the pre-electoral juncture, forging alliances is a logical decision for it helps people know who are they favouring in the most important mandate. Lok Sabha polls scheduled for this summer have stirred the political spectrum with strategic coherences materialising throughout the landscape. Expectedly, BJP and Congress have sprung into action, forging alliances to ensure their chances of getting elected for the 17th Lok Sabha. Not surprisingly, the lotus party has endured anti-incumbency amidst a catalogue of contentious decisions set to play a crucial part in the upcoming mandate. Something which is definitely not exclusive to them, the incessant ruckus over uncleared bills, Rafale deal, CBI infighting, farmer crisis, et al, have definitely blemished the current government yet their determination for a successive term remains intact. Congress was quick to sound the alarm of discontent as it marched ahead with the idea of a grand alliance. The nation was treated to a union of various regional players with a mutual interest of ousting the current government even as the saffron party mocked it for lacking an apt leader – not at all acknowledging Rahul Gandhi as one for the job. Yet, the opposition's cry for a collective force to defeat the ruling power left its impression as expected. Kolkata and Delhi editions of a united display led by Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal made their intentions clear while SP-BSP combine joined them amidst several others. Even though the opposition made a head start, BJP, in two days, forged crucial pre-poll alliances in two electorally significant states – Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu – to clear ambiguity over 87 out of 543 seats in Lok Sabha. The U-turn from Shiv Sena after its adamant stand against BJP following Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's remark that lotus party's "way of treating allies" had changed was unconvincingly digested despite their differences still evident with Sena accusing BJP of politicising Pulwama terror attack. Meanwhile, AIADMK and PMK also accepted BJP's alliance to oppose an expected combine of Congress-DMK in the southern state. Though BJP secured the alliances through its proactive decision-making when it comes to electoral matters, seat-sharing and power-sharing are two bones of contention bound to stir matters. Shiv Sena, though aligned with BJP, certainly prioritises state assembly polls due in October which for BJP is a distant concern as of now. The lotus party has put forward its clarity and coherence prowess when it comes to racking up stakes for the grand show as against Congress who is still floating in a sea of ambiguity regarding its objectives and leadership. The grand alliance that Congress has rung rhymes about is certainly not more instrumental in the run-up to elections when pitted against BJP's ambitious march for the same. It is still figuring out the formula while finalising certain regional collaborations. Though one cannot outrightly say that since in political matters, the surprise element marks a decisive blow, as has been witnessed countless times in India's democratic history. But in the midst of all the pandemonium regarding alliances and seat-sharing – lucrative discussions for regional parties – there stands the stagnant agenda of development and vision that, essentially, is the prime subject of general elections. Campaigning and manifestos will ensure that our fill of promises regarding progress and robust governance are fulfilled, yet, the flavour of elections predominantly seems to be a SWOT analysis of the alternatives. Both Congress and BJP rest their focus on mocking the other and forging strategic alliances while exposing others' weaknesses. Their stress remains on defeating the other to power while a vision for the country on verge of a general mandate is reduced to a mere competition.

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