PARAGRAPH,WORDS AND MEANINGS

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TOPIC – Congrats all, now please get to work

“West Bengal has resoundingly rejected polarising alternative offered by BJP; strong regional leaders will shape pushback to Centre. But for now, task is to fight virus, save lives.”

For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP’s failure to win in West Bengal deepens an already sobering moment. As the government he leads at the Centre struggles to meet the challenge of an unprecedented public health emergency, its fumbles and abdications, and the dreadful toll they are taking, are rendered all too visible. What was also conspicuous was that even as the second Covid wave rose and rose, the Prime Minister personally took ownership of the BJP’s Bengal poll charge — a campaign bolstered by the immense resources at the command of the Centre’s ruling party, a supporting cast of senior party leaders and ministers, and a poll monitor which seemed to be taking cues not from the special challenge of conducting an important election amid a pandemic, but from the powers-that-be. It has been evident for some time now that the BJP underperforms in the states in comparison to its firm hold on the Centre. This has been driven home, starting with the election the BJP strikingly lost to the JD(U)-RJD Mahagathbandhan in Bihar 2015. It has been argued that PM Modi is more popular than his party and that the BJP’s lesser performance in the states points to the weakness of its state leadership, or to the arithmetic rigged up by its political opponents. There is truth in that analysis. Yet the West Bengal verdict cannot be entirely explained by an argument that insulates the PM’s considerable popularity and appeal from the BJP’s assembly failures and incapacities. Because in Bengal, much more than in other BJP campaigns in states, the might of the PM’s impressive political capital was brought into play. In Bengal, the PM taunted the CM directly: “Didi o Didi”. Sure, given that it had started with a paltry three seats in the outgoing assembly, the BJP has still covered a long distance. It has shifted the centre of Bengal’s politics to the right, made the contest bipolar. Having said that, however, its spectacular failure to match up to its special hype makes West Bengal, today, the state that was wooed by the PM and that said no.

For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP’s failure to win in West Bengal deepens an already sobering moment. As the government he leads at the Centre struggles to meet the challenge of an unprecedented public health emergency, its fumbles and abdications, and the dreadful toll they are taking, are rendered all too visible. What was also conspicuous was that even as the second Covid wave rose and rose, the Prime Minister personally took ownership of the BJP’s Bengal poll charge — a campaign bolstered by the immense resources at the command of the Centre’s ruling party, a supporting cast of senior party leaders and ministers, and a poll monitor which seemed to be taking cues not from the special challenge of conducting an important election amid a pandemic, but from the powers-that-be. It has been evident for some time now that the BJP underperforms in the states in comparison to its firm hold on the Centre. This has been driven home, starting with the election the BJP strikingly lost to the JD(U)-RJD Mahagathbandhan in Bihar 2015. It has been argued that PM Modi is more popular than his party and that the BJP’s lesser performance in the states points to the weakness of its state leadership, or to the arithmetic rigged up by its political opponents. There is truth in that analysis. Yet the West Bengal verdict cannot be entirely explained by an argument that insulates the PM’s considerable popularity and appeal from the BJP’s assembly failures and incapacities. Because in Bengal, much more than in other BJP campaigns in states, the might of the PM’s impressive political capital was brought into play. In Bengal, the PM taunted the CM directly: “Didi o Didi”. Sure, given that it had started with a paltry three seats in the outgoing assembly, the BJP has still covered a long distance. It has shifted the centre of Bengal’s politics to the right, made the contest bipolar. Having said that, however, its spectacular failure to match up to its special hype makes West Bengal, today, the state that was wooed by the PM and that said no.For the new governments in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, the immediate challenge is to fight Covid. They must use all their political capital, rally all their resources to win. The battle has been won, a larger and longer battle lies ahead.