Friday, Sep 21, 2018 | Last Update : 08:43 PM IST

Of anti-incumbency & political one-upmanship

The writer is a Delhi-based journalist.
Published : Jul 15, 2018, 5:52 am IST
Updated : Jul 15, 2018, 5:51 am IST

Going a step further, the Modi government is now posting yoga gurus in Indian embassies and cultural centres in different international capitals.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI)

The Bharatiya Janata Party leadership is going all out to blunt the anti-incumbency against its chief ministers in the poll-bound states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Realising that the popularity ratings of its chief ministers are plummeting, the party has decided to deflect attention from the deficiencies of their state governments by focussing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre’s achievements. For instance, the public rally addressed by the Prime Minister in Jaipur last week was attended by beneficiaries of various welfare schemes of the Central government to drive home the point that they have to thank Mr Modi for all the benefits they have received over the past four years.

It’s the same situation in Madhya Pradesh where the three-term chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has drawn up an exhaustive campaign to showcase his government’s achievements. But, unlike in the past when publicity was either handled by the state government or the party, this time the entire operation is being planned and monitored by BJP president Amit Shah. The Prime Minister’s Office is also learnt to be stepping in when required. As a result, the publicity material being released in Madhya Pradesh invariably carries a photograph of Mr Modi along with that of Mr Chouhan. This has obviously created a buzz in the party circles as it is being seen as a vote of no confidence in the longest serving chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.

Long after B.K.S. Iyengar popularised yoga in the West, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken ownership of the practice of yoga to underline its association with India and the country’s growing soft power.

It all began with Mr Modi’s first address at the UN general assembly in 2014 where he made a strong pitch for observing an international yoga day. The proposal was subsequently accepted and June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga. Since then the Prime Minister has personally led yoga sessions in public to underline that its rising popularity in the country and across the globe is associated with him.

Going a step further, the Modi government is now posting yoga gurus in Indian embassies and cultural centres in different international capitals. These yoga gurus, some of them even having a Ph.D degree, hold yoga classes for those who are interested and also give lectures on the Vedas. The members of the Indian community also have the choice to invite the newly-appointed yoga gurus home for these lessons. Yoga is clearly the flavour of the season.
 
Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar is bargaining hard with the BJP for a respectable number of seats for his party in next year’s Lok Sabha elections. This has led to a speculation that relations between the JD(U) and the BJP are under strain but these reports have been rubbished by both parties, resulting in an amusing exchange of words between the JD(U) and its bête noire, the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Stating that there was no question of a divorce between the two allies, JD(U) spokesperson K.C. Tyagi recently said since the nikah has taken place, he was sure the mehr amount will be generous, suggesting that the BJP should not be stingy in the allocation of seats to its allies.

However, Mr Tyagi’s statement drew a sharp riposte from senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari who remarked that Mr Kumar had first divorced Mr Modi before 2014, which was followed by a nikah halala with RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. This ended in a divorce after which he “remarried” Mr Modi. A sensible bride, Mr Tiwari said, will not demand a generous “mehr” in such a situation because if there’s another divorce, no one will be ready for a halala again. In other words, he maintained, Mr Kumar should accept whatever the BJP has to offer because the RJD will not be ready for another patch up.
 
West Bengal chief minister and Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are currently locked in a game of one-upmanship. Mr Modi is slated to address a public rally in Midnapore on July 16 as the BJP is seeking to expand its footprint in this eastern state. While Midnapore has been picked because the BJP has made inroads in this region, the date of rally has also been chosen carefully. Ms Banerjee is scheduled to address a public meeting in Kolkata on July 21, observed every year as Martyrs’ Day. With the two rallies being held within a week, comparisons about the size and mood of crowd are bound to be made. Though Ms Banerjee will go all out to ensure a massive gathering, she will be at a disadvantage as the BJP will get an opportunity to charge her with misusing government machinery and holding up life in the capital. On the other hand, the crowd at Mr Modi’s rally will be described as a spontaneous one, a sign of the Prime Minister’s growing popularity in West Bengal.

Tags: narendra modi, un general assembly, shivraj singh chouhan