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Amid Covid, BJP And Congress Locked In A Political Tug Of War

File pic of a BJP rally in West Bengal. (PTI)

File pic of a BJP rally in West Bengal. (PTI)

Even though the 2024 polls are far away, Congress hopes that the Modi versus Gandhi battle will be fought on the Covid issue.

Amid anger and frustration on social media over the Covid situation, the Congress party set up a Covid management committee headed by former health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Other members of the committee are Indian Youth Congress President and Covid star Sriniwas, Gurdeep Sappal, Pawan Khera, among others.

The purpose of the committee is to help the Congress leadership with the ground reality and, more importantly, to grab the space as a party that is with the grieving and anguished people.

Among them, Sriniwas has emerged as a star almost matching up to the image of actor Sonu Sood, who first came to the limelight when he helped several migrants reach their destination during the first wave. While Sriniwas has received accolades for the work he and his team has done, he is very careful to give the entire credit to Rahul Gandhi; in fact, the Youth Congress volunteers wear the T-shirt with a picture of Rahul Gandhi on it while out at work.

Rahul Gandhi himself minces no words in taking on the Prime Minister over Covid management.

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Even though the 2024 polls are far away and the Congress has delivered a duck in the recent Assembly polls with the added embarrassment of losing Kerala, the new State for Rahul Gandhi as MP, the Congress hopes the Modi versus Gandhi battle will be fought on the Covid issue. This is why the Congress is supporting every international criticism of Modi.

But by doing so it has now given the BJP an agenda and ammunition to hit back at the Congress. BJP’s Sambit Patra led the campaign which has now been supported by all top BJP leaders. The BJP has accused the Congress of running a toolkit to deliberately malign the government. Playing the nationalism card on this, the BJP has accused the Congress of coining the word Indian variant of Covid, which BJP thinks gives India a bad picture globally.

The Congress retaliated by filing an FIR against the BJP but the BJP responded with more proof that the brains behind the toolkit were connected to the Congress research department.

The jury is still out whether Covid was a deciding factor in the last few phases of the West Bengal polls. Even Prashant Kishor felt that Covid was not the issue that propelled Mamata Banerjee to the top job. But the next big polls in Uttar Pradesh will clearly show a direction. The Opposition is enthused by the panchayat poll results in UP but the edge is still with Yogi. But the BJP is taking no chances and is all out to show that Congress is doing politics over it and using this.

As Covid spreads to villages and images of bodies are floating in rivers, the BJP has gone into a firefighting mode. The Opposition hopes Covid will be a poll issue in UP. The BJP is confident that it will be able to tackle the situation by then. But for now, even as people suffer, families grieve, politics is not over. The BJP and the Congress are engaged in a bitter fight.

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first published:May 20, 2021, 15:18 IST