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Emerging Scenario

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Prime Minister Modi’s speech in Dehradun on Friday targeted the multiple opportunities provided by the Congress manifesto. AFSPA’s dilution naturally came up. The implications of the NYAY scheme for the middle class tax payer were highlighted. The ‘chowkidar’ theme was reinforced to ‘involve’ the public in the task of defending the nation in whatever capacity one could. He reminded those present of the allegations of corruption that continue to surround the top leadership of the Congress. This argument was based on, of course, the presence of a higher number of middle-class and service families in Uttarakhand. The aspirations of job-seekers beyond just ‘make work’ employment were also touched upon, considering the more educated profile of the youth here. One can get an idea from this of what the BJP manifesto will contain – not just a recapitulation of what has been done in the past five years, but also a heightened attack on the Congress and its leaders for the compromises on the fundamental principles linked to India’s sovereignty, and the seeming endorsement of radical ideologies. Future BJP campaigning will also seek to explain the difference between mere ‘political foes’ and the anti-national elements using political activism as cover. Much depends on what issues the public will give importance to in this battle of perceptions. It becomes harder owing to the difficulty in distinguishing between falsehood and reality. In a situation when even action taken by the Armed Forces is questioned and even denigrated, it is easy to get fake news to pass muster. When professional companies are hired by political parties to use statistics and algorithms to create the mood, people will be required to use their own judgement and personal experience of the past five years to decide on their choice of candidates. The stakes are high because, as seen in the recent discovery by Facebook, the company hired by a political party was also serving the interests of the Pakistan Army in influencing India’s elections, with great commonality in the content. The numerous news items floating around on social media regarding the ‘will you, won’t you’ alliance between Congress and AAP in Delhi is a good example of how pressure is being sought to be created outside the realm of reality. By present estimates, the BJP seems on a roll and the contest very likely is within the Opposition on how much political space each party can occupy. This parallel theme is turning out just as much interesting as