News & Events
In this section, we are presenting our readers/aspirants compilation of selected editorials of national daily viz. The Hindu, The live mint,The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, PIB etc. This section caters the requirement of Civil Services Mains (GS + Essay) , PCS, HAS Mains (GS + Essay) & others essay writing competition.
1. Gains for BJP at the national level
As far as national politics goes, the main story to emerge from the latest round of assembly elections is not the damage done to the image of invincibility of the BJP’s top two leaders by Mamata Banerjee’s triumphant return to office. Rather, it is the demolition of the remaining vestiges of the Congress’ ability to present itself as a viable alternative to the BJP, one that could take advantage of emerging popular resentment over Covid mismanagement. Having lost Kerala and Assam and being sidelined to irrelevance in West Bengal, the Congress and its current leadership look totally discredited. This strengthens the BJP, despite its losses. After all, the non-BJP victors in these elections are regional parties that pose no threat to the BJP at the centre.
The BJP has come a cropper in West Bengal. Its defeat seems spectacular only because of the hype the BJP leadership had created over its prospects in the state. The party had unleashed a massive campaign in the state, engineered many defections, has been working for years on a project that some have dubbed subaltern Hindutva, which seeks to mobilise the most disprivileged castes into the Hindutva fold through some symbolic smoke and mirrors and deployed the usual BJP tactic of polarising voters on Hindu-Muslim lines, by pointing to Mamata Banerjee’s appeasement politics. Minus the hype, the BJP’s performance is spectacular. Over the last five years, its vote share has climbed from 10% to 38%, it has replaced the Congress and the Left as the principal Opposition and set the political agenda for the state. In Kerala, too, the BJP has changed the societal discourse, forcing the CPI(M) to repent its stand on women entering the Sabarimala shrine and emboldening a candidate in one constituency to declare that he did not want Muslims to vote for him. The party has wrested Puducherry from the Congress, too.
The challenge to Rahul Gandhi is several degrees more severe than for the Congress. His leadership stands exposed once again. There is little room now to ignore demands for reform.
2. Complacence not an option for re-elected
Getting re-elected is a heady feeling. The incumbent leaders of Kerala, Assam and West Bengal have every right to be pleased with themselves and deserve kudos. Mamata Banerjee deserves special commendation for not just surviving but raising her party’s vote share, in a battle in which she forsook the safety of her traditional seat and took the challenge to her local rival’s home turf. However, it would be a mistake for these parties to think they just need to keep doing what they have been doing for a repeat performance five years from now.
Politics keeps changing, throwing up fresh challenges. Past achievement could lull the achievers into a false sense of complacence. That would be a big mistake. Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala impressed the normally cynical Malayalis with his crisis management skills. However, the state cannot be in permanent crisis for him to keep impressing his voters. He needs new ideas for economic development of the state, beyond the welfarism he has perfected as part of crisis management. The BJP in Assam got a free pass, thanks to the listless Congress leadership of the state. What should have been the Congress leadership is with the BJP, leaving the Congress with the scion of its three-time chief minister to lead the party with few credentials other than his lineage. That would not be the case forever. The BJP needs to find a solution to the NRC crisis it has created.
Mamata Banerjee would do well to appreciate that the BJP’s campaign against what it dubs her appeasement politics has a lot of purchase among the people. Further, people expect less corruption and hate the culture of political violence. Even if successful politicians are ill-disposed towards unsolicited advice.
3. Modi government needs to step in and import to quicken vaccination drive
The NDA government says that its strategy to combat Covid-19 has two planks. One, is the “whole of government” approach, which means that both the Centre and states are in sync. Second, is the concrete plan based on appropriate behaviour, testing, tracing, treating and vaccination.
Of the five pillars that make up its plan, it is vaccination that presents the durable antidote to the human and economic consequences that follow the spread of the virus. In this context, both the speed of vaccination today and the current strategy need improvement.
In the last 24 hours, government data shows that around 1.8 million doses were administered. To put this in context, barely a month ago, India witnessed over 4 million jabs in a single day even before vaccination was thrown open to the 18-44 demographic. The 18-44 demographic is not only huge, it is also in urgent need of protection as it makes up the bulk of India’s working age population. On 1 May, the first day of the vaccination drive for 18-44 demographic, a mere 86,023 beneficiaries across 11 states got jabs.
What the data shows is that India is facing a supply constraint in vaccines. It will take at least three months for additions to domestic capacity to roll out extra vaccine doses. In the interim, imports represent the only way to enhance the speed of vaccination. This requires the Centre to step in and use both its experience in international contracting and the advantage of order size to import on behalf of states. This will quicken the process, which should be our priority.
4. A fine balance: Regional parties show their strength. Mamata, Stalin, Vijayan provide counterweight to BJP
In a result with national repercussions, the spotlight falls on federalism and governance amid TMC’s sweep of Bengal, DMK’s return to Tamil Nadu’s helm, LDF riding Kerala’s huge pro-incumbency wave, and NDA garnering consolation victories in Assam and Puducherry. PM Modi and his deputy Amit Shah had unleashed BJP’s formidable resources on the quest to add Bengal to their awe-inspiring saga of political conquests even as the second Covid wave gained pace. But in a David vs Goliath fight to the finish the feisty, diminutive Mamata Banerjee had the last laugh.
BJP rode into Bengal high on showmanship and the aura of commanding a central government that brooks no political opposition. But in failing to replicate its 2019 Lok Sabha performance, the Bengal results are a reality check for BJP. Consider Pinarayi Vijayan who upturned Kerala’s history of alternately swinging between LDF and UDF. His inspired handling of multiple crises that befell Kerala has reassured the large floating voter base to stick with LDF again. In effect, amidst all the showmanship and the overpowering 24×7 political campaigns Vijayan may have tried what’s become in today’s circumstances a novel tactic: governance.
Coupled with Kerala’s success in negotiating the pandemic, Vijayan’s daily Covid press briefings have also been a novelty in a country where the political leadership only intermittently takes people into confidence or attempts to assuage the growing panic. TN is the other state showcasing a robust governance and public health model in this crisis. Given that – compared to the despair and chaos that have gripped the north, with the national capital literally gasping for oxygen – Kerala and TN have performed reasonably well in tackling the Covid crisis this may also have reflected in AIADMK, led by the low profile EK Palaniswami, acquitting itself decently in TN. The state has a tradition of wiping the floor with the incumbent party, but Palaniswami headed off that fate even as MK Stalin came up trumps – strengthening opposition forces along with Mamata and Vijayan.
This may be overall a good outcome for national politics as the record today shows that a single party dominating politics isn’t good for governance. This is true not just for the Centre but states as well. So hopefully BJP with its phenomenal 2019 national mandate can course correct and handle the pandemic much better, even as TMC improves its governance record in Bengal given BJP’s emergence as a potent opposition in the state.
5. The return of federalism
With the Trinamool Congress (TMC) winning West Bengal for a third time, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) returning to power in Tamil Nadu after a decade, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) breaking a four-decade-old electoral pattern to retain power in Kerala, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retaining Assam, and the National Democratic Alliance coming to power in Puducherry for the first time, there is a mandate both for continuity and change in the different regions that went to polls. But the results will also have an impact on national politics in five different ways.
One, there will be a restoration of a degree of balance in Indian federalism — which is good — and greater tension between the Centre and states, which needs careful management. In recent years, espec-ially after the BJP’s 2019 win, there has been a perception of the Centre undermining the powers of the states. The fact that three important states, Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, will be governed by parties which are politically and ideologically opposed to the BJP means that there will be a greater assertion of federal rights. The Centre has a choice — it can either double down or continue with its curr-ent approach where the BJP’s political aims often supersede the principle of cooperative federalism or it can be more collaborative. The states have a choice too — they can either become more confrontational for the sake of it or adopt a strong but constructive approach. Harmony would be a wiser course of action for both.