What Verdict 2021 means for Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi

Amitabh Tiwari
·Columnist
·4 min read
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Photos: Tolga Akmen and Punit Paranjpe / AFP via Getty Images
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Photos: Tolga Akmen and Punit Paranjpe / AFP via Getty Images

It has been a mixed bag of results for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party in state elections 2021. While the BJP retained Assam and won Puducherry, Congress drew a blank.

The grand old party lost Puducherry and failed to win Kerala (despite a strong trend favouring the opposition) and Assam (despite the significant anti-CAA sentiment).

Trinamool Congress boss Mamata Banerjee handed BJP one of the worst blows since Delhi and Bihar results in 2015. These polls have strengthened the hands of the anti-BJP, anti-Congress regional forces with the chorus growing for a pan India Third Front.

With coronavirus cases rising and deaths registering new highs every day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under fire for ‘mishandling’ the COVID crisis. Many right-wing supporters are now asking tough questions to the dispensation.

The prime minister and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have also been criticized for focussing too much on state elections rather than managing the emergency. The Opposition has alleged that the big rallies held by the duo, especially in West Bengal, are responsible for the spread of virus.

The slow progress on vaccination, shortages at centers, uncertain supplies and opening it for all without adequate preparation has also been criticised.

Narendra Modi is clearly facing the biggest crisis of his term as prime minister. Modi has addressed the nation just once during this crisis and the deafening silence this time around could hurt his image and provide an opening to the Opposition which is gunning for the government.

He is under immense pressure from the industry associations, medical fraternity and opposition leaders to impose a nationwide lockdown. However, he hasn’t buckled under pressure yet, due to the huge economic costs of the draconian measure.

Despite the fact that health is a state subject, the states have been given more flexibility this time around to manage crisis, take decisions on lockdowns and now even to procure vaccines for their population, it will be difficult for Modi to shrug off responsibility.

People are looking up to him to take things under his control and take India out of this crisis. There are huge expectations from him.

Public health experts are of the view that reaching herd immunity is unlikely any time in the near future and believe that the virus will continue to circulate. They believe significant improvement will be seen around six to nine months from now.

A team at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore used a mathematical model to predict about 4,04,000 deaths will occur by June 11 if current trends continue. As of date 2.26 lakh deaths have occured due to the deadly virus.

A model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington forecast 1,018,879 deaths by the end of July.

If things don’t improve and situation worsens, then it is likely to have a political fallout as well and may impact BJP’s chances in state elections of Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Uttarakhand due in Q1 of 20211, nine months from now.

Politics is all about perception and momentum. Weak performance in UP next year can open a Pandora's box as the party will be defending Gujarat in Q4, where it has been ruling since 1998.

The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party has edged out BJP and emerged as the single largest party in gram panchayat polls, with the saffron party recording losses in Ayodhya as well as Varanasi.

For Congress, and especially, the Gandhi family, the results couldn’t have come at a worse time than this. The party is set to choose a new President by the end of June.

Party’s big loss in Kerala from where Rahul is a Member of Parliament could scuttle his chances to make a comeback as party president.

Rahul’s policies and strategy is also being blamed for the party’s rout in Bengal where it scored a duck. The rebel G-23 camp could up the ante against Rahul and prevent him from occupying the top position.

His leadership abilities are being questioned not only in the Congress party but also among the Indian public. It is being increasingly seen that Congress under his de-facto leadership is not in a position to take on the BJP and Modi’s might.

It is the regional satraps who are challenging BJP and even stopping its juggernaut. Anti-BJP and anti-Congress forces in the country could now look for alternative leadership.

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