'White paper vs Black paper new tool for election'

Synopsis

Political commentatior Neerja Chowdhury says the upcoming election is a high-stakes battle for both the BJP-led NDA and the opposition. The Prime Minister is poised for a third term, while the opposition faces an existential crisis if they perform poorly. Congress is hitting back by countering with facts, figures, and arguments.

Neerja Chowdhury-1200ETMarkets.com

Neerja Chowdhury, Political Commentator & Columnist, says it could have been a white paper versus white paper as it was in 1993, when they traded charges against each other. It is a manner of speaking, black paper, black deed, black kartoot on the other side it is, part of political marketing and political attack. So, also the BJP – the Prime Minister has been very sharp in his criticism in Parliament and that shows it is a very high stake election because the Prime Minister is all set for a third term and he is likely to get it. But the opposition also knows it is a very high stake for them. If they do very badly, then it is going to be an existential crisis for several of these parties. INDIA as an alliance is not showing signs of confidence at the moment, but Congress is hitting back. After a long time, the Congress seems to be getting its act together and at least hitting back with facts and figures and arguments.

What is your take on this white paper that is being presented by the government and how do you really assess this move coming in just ahead of elections? How much of an impact will this really have on voters?

Neerja Chowdhury: I think this is a new tool for elections. White paper versus black paper, how the economy did during UPA’s time and the Congress counters on the same day. Congress is normally very slow on the uptake; so coming out with a black paper on the same day on how badly the Modi Government has done on the economy. So, both trade charges.


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I am reminded of early 1993, when after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the government had come out with a white paper blaming the BJP for what had happened, all that had gone wrong and then the BJP came out with a white paper blaming the government for what had gone wrong. But that was not near the elections. State elections were a few months down the line. It is now a few weeks down the line and the prime minister has been in an attack mode, taking on the Congress in particular, not so much the regional parties. The Congress ruled for 10 years and all that went wrong and what they inherited in 2014 and the Congress countering with the black paper. So, as I say, it is a paper versus paper and before the election campaign, a paper ploy, white paper and black paper ploy are tools in election campaigning.

So, you are saying that these are just new tools that are being invented by governments. Before that it was the Congress government that came out with a white paper and now it is the BJP-led NDA that is coming out with a white paper. But this is based on some facts as the white paper claims. We have seen inflation having moderated. The IMF a few days back stated that India is growing at a faster pace than many of the economies of the western world.

Neerja Chowdhury: Yes, we will see. It will be very interesting to study the two papers and see what are the specific charges that are being made, the information, the data that is being… figures that have been given to support their charges, absolutely. But of course, Rahul Gandhi has said the charges being created by the BJP are a heap of lies.

But I would say one thing that with both sides coming out with data, for us as citizens and voters, it is very good to get this information so that we can make up our minds.

I also want to question you now on your assessment of how the opposition really has behaved. Mallikarjun Kharge along with other senior Congress and opposition leaders are really saying that this is a black paper and that would of course be badgered by the Prime Minister in the Parliament. What do you make of this move by the Congress coming out with a black paper?

Neerja Chowdhury: Look, it could have been a white paper versus white paper as it was in 1993, when they traded charges against each other. It is a manner of speaking, black paper, black deed, black kartoot on the other side it is, part of political marketing and political attack. So, also the BJP, the Prime Minister has been very sharp in his criticism in Parliament and that shows it is a very high stake election because the Prime Minister is all set for a third term and he is likely to get it. But the opposition also knows it is a very high stake for them. If they do very badly, then it is going to be an existential crisis for several of these parties.

INDIA as an alliance is not showing signs of confidence at the moment, but Congress is hitting back. After a long time, the Congress seems to be getting its act together and at least hitting back with facts and figures and arguments.

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