As the current round of Assembly elections progresses, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership is looking ahead to key electoral battles next year. Among them, the Karnataka election is already generating interest with BJP having brought about a generational change with Basavaraj Bommai as chief minister. There has been talk—spurred by the comments of a state leader—about “Gujarat-style” changes of incumbent MLAs and ministers. Some of this is seen as individual views and jockeying following a change of guard and the party’s efforts to look to the future in terms of younger representatives. While there will be new faces, just as has been the case in other states where BJP is in office, sources emphasise that each state has its own ‘model’ and there is no one-size-fits-all formula. More attention should be paid to the government’s efforts to widen its social base through concerted outreach to weaker sections like Dalits and tribals, with an increase in the quantum of reservation. There have also been rallies to organise these sections with the BJP central leadership assuring the Centre’s support. Looking for ways to beat incumbency, caste mobilisation and organisational rejigs seem to be part of BJP’s strategy.
THE ORGANISERS OF the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) are pleased with the response to the initiative to invite 75 young filmmakers to showcase their talent. There were more than 1,000 entries and the juries sat for close to 10 days to sort them and make the final selections. The entries have also used the MoJo app and submitted 5-10-minute films, with the technique changing the way films are made. The competitive element has seen filmmakers being given 45 hours to make documentaries of a certain specification and many took up the challenge. The idea was to provide a stage and networking experience to the talented youngsters drawn from all over the country. For example, the chance to meet the top creative teams of films like RRR is an opportunity not easy to come by. The easy availability of film production software on laptops and the use of mobiles have led to an explosion of creativity that goes beyond the reels on popular apps. Entries at the IFFI reflect a wide creative range, including perceptive stories of life in the hinterland to fictional representations and the use of special effects.
The UP Factor
States have begun to pursue investor summits in right earnest and Uttar Pradesh (UP) is no exception. With the state climbing in NITI Aayog rankings in terms of infrastructure and ease of business, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is looking to bring business to the heartland state on a much larger scale than has been the case so far. The success of Noida as an electronics hub and the recent inauguration of a ` 5,000 crore mega data centre have encouraged the state government to set its target higher. Taking the initiative in his own hands, Adityanath addressed a curtain-raiser in Delhi this week and spoke of the state’s plans to provide a welcoming climate for investors. Having won a second term with convincing numbers, he wants to get big initiatives rolling ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls. Though the next state election is still some time away, the chief minister is keenly aware of the high levels of expectations in the large state with strong caste faultlines that have been exploited by BJP’s rivals Samajwadi Party and BSP. Keen to leave no openings for competitors and BJP’s parliamentary majority hinging on a dominant performance in UP, Adityanath said UP had shown the capacity to implement infrastructure projects on a big scale. The development of the Jewar airport has been an eye-opener in this regard, not least for the smooth process of land acquisition not marred by litigation and agitations as in the case of projects in several states.
With attention focused on the heat and dust of the Gujarat election, the curtain has dropped on Himachal Pradesh where candidates, parties and leaders await the counting of votes on December 8. With not much to do till then, commentators and commoners alike are trying to figure out how the polling went. The race, it would seem, remained largely bipolar between BJP and Congress, despite AAP’s bid to make a debut in the hill state. The AAP leadership itself seemed to have given up along the way, preferring to concentrate on Gujarat. Many of the challenger’s leading figures in the hill state joined BJP. After AAP’s big win in Punjab, there were expectations that the party might look to make an impact in the neighbouring state. The interval between the Punjab victory and the subsequent round of state polls appears to have hurt AAP’s prospects. Reports of a decline in Punjab’s law and order as well as corruption allegations against senior AAP leaders in Delhi sowed doubts in the minds of voters, feel observers based in Himachal. This may result in the contest following the more traditional BJP vs Congress trajectory with the opposition raking up issues like the demand for the restoration of the old pension scheme and the new Agniveer recruitment system for the armed forces. In a state where sarkari jobs are sought after, both parties look to tap the sentiment. BJP leaders feel the rebellions caused by some seniors being denied the party ticket have been contained and factional bloodletting was also controlled. The trump card remained Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s connect with the state and women voters in particular. He also made it a point to highlight the Centre’s promise to recruit one million people in government jobs to assuage sentiments.
THE COP27 conference at Sharm el-Sheikh, as has often been the case with climate change summits, went down to the wire with all sides testing each other’s nerves. The cat-and-mouse games see the rich nations try and evade stronger and binding responsibilities and the less developed ones seek concessions they consider rightfully due. India finds itself under pressure to take on more commitments although it is a victim of Western fossil-fuel splurging and even as its per capita emissions are on the lower side. Although the final text did not include a specific reference to the need to reduce all fossil fuels, the issue is now on the global table thanks to India’s persistence. While the breakthrough “loss and damage” fund might see demands that India contribute to compensating smaller and poorer nations, China will feel the heat as one of the world’s biggest emitters. Its attempts to scale down coal power had to be given up due to resultant energy shortages and higher prices. Moreover, its attempt to park itself in the ‘developing nations’ corner is being increasingly questioned. It does seem that China’s size and energy production and consumption will put its actions under more scrutiny as both the developed and the least developed nations seek commitments as well as funds from Beijing.