PM highlights national security in the wake of Colombo blasts
The Prime Minister reached Nandurbar in Nasik district of Maharashtra as part of his national coverage captaining for his party and alliance reports Times of India.
Speaking to an excited public, Mr Modi spent a large part of his address focused around national security. With the recent horrific Colombo serial blasts that took over 290 lives and left over 400 injured still fresh in the minds of people, the PM reminded people of the need to remain vigilant on national security. Taking the attack to the Congress-NCP camp, he referred to the soft approach of the two terms under UPA I and II when the country witnessed several blasts and terrorist attacks.
Mr Modi spoke of the swift retaliation by the Indian Air Force during the Balakot strikes against Pakistan and reaffirmed his government’s commitment to ensuring a hard line in the fight against terrorism.
Congress remains undecided over Priyanka Gandhi’s role and potential
Priyanka Gandhi remains an enigma to the large Indian public which is yet to make up its mind on her potential as a leader. She certainly has charisma and seems more endearing than her brother Rahul Gandhi but does the party have a larger role for her in these elections or will she remain an influencer for her brother’s and party’s voters in eastern U.P?
She has been giving cryptic replies “I will fight the elections if my party wishes so” when asked if she is contesting Narendra Modi in Varanasi this year.
Congress has a dilemma. The party brought in Priyanka rather late in the day and now watching her rising popularity is not sure how to optimize her impact while still ensuring she does not overshadow her brother.
The only person from the opposition camp who can create a stir and break-up votes in Varanasi is Priyanka. The question is not whether she will defeat the PM or not, it’s what percentage votes is she able to garner despite the overpowering presence of Modi. Win or lose; she will set herself up for a larger play during the next assembly elections in U.P or emerging as a pivotal player within the party. In either case, Rahul Gandhi will be overshadowed may end up unintentionally creating two camps within the party – one that favours Priyanka for party leadership, the other that continues to rally behind Rahul.
This is why Priyanka Gandhi and the voting public remain in suspense on whether she will take on the PM in Varanasi or not.
In Delhi, focus back on Congress leaders Sheila Dikshit and Ajay Maken
After a long hibernation post-decimation in Delhi, former CM Sheila Dikshit is back in the driver’s seat leading the Congress charge into the 2019 battle.
For months the debate on the alliance with AAP was kept open, but with both parties deciding to go it alone, Congress has named six candidates of out of the seven seats in Delhi – Sheila Dikshit (North East Delhi); Akay Maken (New Delhi); JP Agarwal (Chandni Chowk); Arvinder Singh Lovely (East Delhi); Mahabali Mishra (West Delhi); Rajesh Lilothia (North West). The candidate for the South Delhi seat is yet to be decided.
BJP has named four sitting MPs to take on Congress and AAP. Union Minister Harsh Vardhan (Chandni Chowk); Ramesh Bidhuri (South Delhi); Manoj Tiwari (North East Delhi); Pravesh Verma (West Delhi). The party is yet to announce candidates for three remaining seats.
Will voters of U.P continue to remain loyal to their parties?
The Indian voter is fickle minded, easily swayed, and often shifting in loyalties – are some of the attributes political leaders give voters in general. But there are pockets across the country which remain loyal and unwavering to certain political parties irrespective of how they perform in other parts of the state or country.
Parliamentary seats like Amethi and Rae Bareli have for long remained loyal to the Gandhi family. Lucknow, Varanasi, and Pilibhit have remained loyal to the BJP while Mainpuri, Kannauj, Badaun, and Firozabad have remained SP bastions.
These have been the voting trends since the 2004 general elections where the voters have not shifted loyalties despite leaders changing from these seats.
This flies in the face of some of the attributes mentioned above. Loyalty and faith in the party do matter.