“Hateful to me as are the gates of hell, is he who, hiding one thing in his heart, utters another.”

–Homer

The Indian government appears to be moving towards early elections, depriving the opposition parties, especially Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), enough time and space to mount a serious political threat to it. In case this is true, then BJP’s own divisions on the issue of leadership will also help Congress and its allies to succeed in their plans.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi are rapidly putting in place measures that would benefit a majority of people in the short run, but may not be viable for any long-term planning. According to media reports, for instance, the party’s latest decision to hurry with the Food Security Bill was nothing, but an attempt to win over a maximum number of voters living below the poverty line.

Next, the Congress has claimed that when it came into power through a popular mandate, the poverty level was a little more than 37 percent specifically due to the mismanagement and bad governance of the previous BJP government. Today, however, this has reduced to a little less than 22 percent due to the people-friendly policies adopted by it.

In addition, it has accused BJP of fanning communal violence. Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed has even gone to the extent of “linking the birth of Indian Mujahideen to 2002 Gujarat riots”, in which thousands of innocent Muslims were massacred with the tacit approval of then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. According to The Indian Express, “As BJP President Rajnath Singh is here batting for visa for Modi, 65 members of Parliament have written letters to President Barack Obama, urging the US administration to maintain the current policy of denying visa to him” because of his involvement in the Gujarat tragedy.

Nevertheless, a recent poll showed Modi, who is playing the Hindu nationalist card, effectively leading Rahul by a double-digit margin. It also indicated that neither Congress, nor BJP could win the elections on their own. This leads to the fact that there are strong prospects of the ‘Third Front’ playing a vital role in the ensuing polls; with its expected 184 seats to win power or at least keep BJP out of power, a vowed objective of Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) has also recommended the formation of Telangana state, a move that could help the party secure a high percentage of votes.

Meanwhile, BJP has accused Congress of being mired in corruption, citing the example of the 3G scam and the auction of coal reserves that resulted in billions of rupees loss to national exchequer. Moreover, it highlighted the manipulation of funds doled out to Congress-led state governments, while the states that are being governed by non-Congress parties have been deprived of their legitimate right.

Conversely, BJP President Rajnath’s decision to appoint Modi as head of the party’s election campaign has raised many eyebrows. The party is being questioned about its politics of Ram Temple issue, which previously brought it into power. On its part, Congress in deft political moves has been able to win the support of some important leaders, like Mulayam Singh and Nitish Kumar (Bihar Chief Minister), creating problems for its political opponents.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, it seems that the new government is prepared to walk the extra mile to normalise relations with India. The leadership, however, needs to realise that while it is necessary that Pakistan has normal ties with all its neighbours, including India, it is, perhaps, not the right time to lower our guard. It is advised that Islamabad should wait till the Lok Sabha polls are held and then do business, or say establish trade links, with the party that forms the next government in New Delhi.

It is, nevertheless, important that both Pakistani and Indian governments keep negotiating to find appropriate solutions to problems, like the peaceful settlement of IHK, distribution of water and India’s alleged involvement in acts of subversion in Balochistan, for not only the betterment of the two countries, but also South Asia. It is hoped that New Delhi will take into account the legitimate concerns of Pakistanis before expecting anymore concessions from Pakistan.

The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist.