TODAY -

Way off the mark
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: February 13, 2024 -



WITH the general elections to the 18th Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament, scheduled to take place sometime in April and May this year, campaigning for the same has already been set in motion.

While the ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is working hard to retain power for the third consecutive term, formally launched its campaign for the Lok Sabha elections on January 25 during the NaMo Navmatdata Sammelan, a conclave for the firsttime voters hosted by its youth wing at the party's headquarters in New Delhi; the main opposition party, Indian National Congress (INC), which has decided to contest the 2024 General Elections under the banner of I.N.D.I.A. bloc, a coalition of 26 major state-level parties, is currently busy engaging in its "Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra from Manipur to Mumbai" to spotlight on issues like unemployment, price rise and social justice so as to set a narrative to take on the "anyay kaal" of 10 years of the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

Even though the Election Commission of India (ECI) has not yet made any official announcement for the dates of the General Elections 2024, an opinion poll conducted by a private media group India Today has already predicted a comfortable hat-trick of victory for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as "voters continue to see Modi as a popular nationalist leader who has accelerated growth and improved foreign ties."

The findings of India Today's "Mood of the Nation" (MOTN) survey say that as the opinion poll of 35,801 respondents conducted across India between December 15, 2023 and January 28, 2024, Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies could win 335 of the 543 directly elected seats in the lower house of parliament while the Congress-led INDIA bloc could secure only 166 seats.

Setting aside the issue of how opinion polls and surveys conducted in India often have a mixed record with many getting election results in the world's biggest democracy wrong in the past, the political strategies and tactics being used by the BJP and its allies to keep alive the "Brand Modi" have been hard to miss.

From the ubiquitous "Modi Sarkar Ki Guarantee" tagline one sees on the front pages of newspapers every day to the articles and press statements released not just from the offices of union cabinet ministers, ministers of state (independent charge) and the lower rank ministers of state but also from the state unit BJP office all trying to highlight the activities and achievements of the Modi government have been simply overwhelming.

But one such press statement that came from the office of Minister of State for Education and External Affairs Dr RK Ranjan Singh, who got elected from Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency, has made it hard for anyone in Manipur to digest in view of the stark contrast between what is being said and what is on the ground.

In his press statement, Dr Ranjan revealed that the Union Government allocated Rs 40,475.7 lakh for the advancement of educational infrastructure in Manipur under the Samagra Shiksha scheme for the fiscal year 2022-23 and the amount has been earmarked for comprehensive development across elementary, secondary and teacher education sectors in the state.

But how this amount has catalysed any "transformative change in the educational landscape of Manipur by enhancing access, quality and effectiveness of school education in Manipur" is a question that the people of Manipur, which has remained embroiled in an unprecedented ethnic conflict since May 3 last year, would like the academician-turned politician to answer.

The fact that the press statement of Minister of State for Education and External Affairs has come at a time when there is growing concern over the future of many young students who have been affected by the ongoing conflict has shown how way off the mark it is to talk of "committed endeavour" to support educational projects in Manipur or "the people-centric governance model" of anyone, least of all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose stony silence over the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Manipur, has only made the people embittered.



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