India’s COVID-19 battle can alter its political discourse
The Narendra Modi government has put the country of 1.3 billion people into a strict lockdown in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the Coronavirus is not only a challenging test for humanity, but for the political system of India as well.
In his six years to the office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to be currently facing the greatest challenge in his entire political career in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. While the success of the unprecedented lockdown can vary from region to region and state to state, the larger picture caters to the Central government’s response to the needs of the poor amid the pandemic fears.
Besides the issues of the poverty-stricken, the economy also needs momentous restructuring to survive the ramifications of the Great Depression caused by the worldwide lockdown. Now, how will the Prime Minister counters such matters at hand will prove to be the turning point of his political career. For the man whose term at the PM’s chair has been significantly guided by issues of Ram Temple, Kashmir or NRC-CAB, COVID-19 pandemic can transpire to be an electoral opportunity for the ruling party.
As for the Opposition parties, it is the need of the hour for them to engage in constructive criticism, rather than seeking electoral benefits out of the global health emergency. Opposition parties’ handling the crisis at the grassroots level and scrutinizing the Modi government’s response strategy can make a huge difference for their campaign. From warning the country about Coronavirus even before the government could contemplate the impact of the pandemic, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has responded quite maturely to the situation. Other Opposition leaders have also conveyed their suggestions to the Central government, providing assistance in the COVID-19 battle.
It is also important to note the crucial role played by all the state governments against the health crisis. A huge shoutout to the chief ministers, especially of non-BJP ruled states, on the way they steered the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic in their states. When Modi’s Cabinet ministers have kept their distances in addressing the citizens, chief ministers have held regular press conferences informing the people about the government’s action plans and relief strategy during the lockdown. Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan among others have earned praises for the way they governed their state through the tough lockdown and pandemic fears. The state governments have worked with the Central government to ensure the safety of the citizens, with the Prime Minister regularly interacting with the CM via video conferences.
It is certain that the Coronavirus pandemic may leave a colossal impact in the Indian political discourse in the years to come. Nevertheless, the ‘war-like’ long battle against the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly called for the need for a robust public health care system for any unprecedented health emergency.