• Wednesday, April 24, 2024

G20

Modi’s BJP rides on India’s G20 wave ahead of series of elections at home

The BJP has plans to highlight the “success of the summit” during fortnight-long celebrations starting on Sunday (17), when Modi turns 73.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi delivers his remarks at Session 1 on ‘One Earth’ during the G20 summit, in New Delhi on Saturday, September 9, 2023, with the nameplate ‘Bharat’ in front. Indian national security advisor Ajit Doval is seen in the back. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

LESS than a week has passed since India hosted the 18th leaders summit of the Group of 20 bloc in New Delhi and while it gave prime minister Narendra Modi and his government opportunities to present their credentials on the global stage, the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was reportedly trying to cash in on the prime minister’s enhanced image ahead of a series of state elections due this year and the national election next year.

Modi also proposed holding a virtual meeting of the G20 members in November to review the suggestions and decisions made at the just concluded summit before India’s presidency concludes on November 30.

While observers had a restricted take on the summit’s outcome despite India pulling off a consensus over the Delhi Declaration even in the absence of Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, the saffron party was upbeat.

While Modi’s face was put up across hoardings in the run-up to the G20 summit across the nation, local television channels came up with wide coverage of the Indian prime minister with world leaders and he has been widely praised for the diplomatic success.

The BJP also used messages of praise from world leaders on its social platforms to magnify Modi’s role.

While the summit had little breakthrough in critical areas such as climate change and debt, for Modi they did not matter too much as diplomatic intricacies are of little relevance in domestic politics, Reuters reported citing analysts.

They said apart from the G20 summit, the success of India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission on the moon is another factor that feeds into the country’s feel-good image and boosts Modi.

The opposition Indian National Congress has accused Modi of turning the G20 event into an election campaign. It said while he spoke about promoting dialogue and peace on the international platform, his Hindu nationalist administration was discriminating against religious minorities and quashing dissent. The Modi government, however, has denied the charges.

The Congress also slammed the Modi government over the G20 logo which was picked featuring the lotus, which is also the BJP’s poll symbol. The ruling party hit back saying the opposition was denigrating the country’s national flower.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who Modi replaced in 2014, said in a recent interview that while India’s global standing should rightfully be an issue in domestic politics, it is also important “to exercise restraint in using diplomacy and foreign policy for party or personal politics”.

However, the analysts feel that despite such criticism, the strategy of the ruling party is unlikely to backfire since Modi has a strong political position.

“The message which has gone out is that India has really emerged very strong in the world,” said Sanjay Kumar, psephologist at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi, told Reuters.

“And it’s only because of Modi. The narrative is the national pride of an average Indian has gone up,” he said.

The Indian prime minister enjoys a high approval ratings and recent surveys suggest that he will not have much of a problem to win the general election of 2024. Modi’s BJP and the National Democratic Alliance that it leads registered landslide wins in the 2014 and 2019 elections and they are now seeking the third straight mandate.

The prime minister’s image remains high despite concerns over rising inflation, unemployment and uneven economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. Relentless violence in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur is another factor that has threatened Modi’s image.

The BJP has plans to highlight the “success of the summit” during fortnight-long celebrations starting on Sunday (17), when Modi turns 73, an official of the BJP told Reuters.

Modi’s contribution to India’s rising global stature will also be a key theme of a special five-day parliament session beginning next week, the official added.

According to C-Voter’s biannual “Mood of the Nation” survey in India Today magazine in August, 47 per cent said India’s G20 presidency will enhance the country’s global stature while 73 per cent said it will be a poll plank next year.

While the Congress feels that Modi’s statement of tolerance on the global stage are “sheer hypocrisy” as he allegedly remains silent on hate speech, lynchings, targeted killings and attacks on holy places at home, the BJP is not complaining about how things are at the moment.

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