DC Edit | Finally, Ambani and Adani enter the election debate

After three phases of polling for the Lok Sabha elections, the discussion on the main stage face-off between the two top leaders — BJP supremo and two-term incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi — has brought to the fore issues of wealth creation, cronyism, economic growth, the “ability” of political influence to make easy, big and undeserved money and political funding to the Centre.

For the first time in over a decade, the BJP has not kept the electoral narrative confined to traditional issues — like the Ram temple built in Ayodhya, or the abrogation of Article 370, or the removal of triple talaq, or its future plans centred around the One Nation, One Election, or even the Uniform Civil Code. Instead it has spoken up on economic issues, often attacking the Congress manifesto over populist socialism of redistribution of wealth and a potential inheritance tax, among others.

This steering away of the election narrative away from the traditional strengths of the BJP, often seen by many as ways to “communalise” the elections, is not totally deliberate or a choice of the ruling saffron party as much as a natural twist, and the Congress, perhaps without so much of either a plan or much agency, finds its election ideas at the centre of the poll fight. Among them is the issue of the duo of Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani.

Of course, there is a parallel track on that — with references replete with dehumanising analogies of a “set of people” who have too many children, or illegal immigrants, or attempts to snatch the “mangalsutras” of Hindu women, or stoking fears of one alliance keen to impose the Sharia law in India, or being supported by Pakistan, among others — but somehow, there is a clear lack of traction to such issues.

Hence, the organic shift to issues more along the lines of money.

Historically, Indians have loved the idea of a double-name team to represent a broader vision, from Bollywood scriptwriters and music composer teams to a symbolic phrase to represent infinite wealth — and interestingly, while it was “Tata-Birla” for decades, in the New Age India, especially in the last decade or more, it is Ambani-Adani, who together as an alliterative phrase represent not just extraordinary wealth or rise in success but also proximity to supreme political power.

Rahul Gandhi has used the fact that, like Prime Minister Modi and home minister Amit Shah, the two most powerful icons of India, the two wealthiest icons of India, Mukesh Ambani of Reliance and Gautam Adani of the Adani Group, also hail from Gujarat, to constantly create an image of some kind of nexus or cosy comfort. But Mr Modi has refused to even acknowledge the two businessmen so far.

In his dramatic style, Mr Modi chose to hit back to demonstrate that he has no reason to play this line of attack by Mr Gandhi on the backfoot, and instead, openly asked the people of India why the Congress had gone silent on the Ambani-Adani issue, further insinuating if they had funded the Grand Old Party with black money, stuffing “tempo vans” of cash. Mr Gandhi hit back, challenging Mr Modi to initiate a probe by the CBI or the Enforcement Directorate.

The nation is clearly glued to the discussion, and we can only wait to see its impact on the elections and their final outcome.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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