It is more than half way into the Lok Sabha elections. Sufficient for a quick analysis of the campaigns run by the BJP and the I.N.D.I.A. Bloc with an eye on the issues raised by either side, and what is working with the masses. Or for that matter, not working.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is really the sole campaigner for the Bharatiya Janata Party. And even if local meetings are being held, and Union Ministers adding their bit to the overall campaign, the focus of the controlled media is entirely on him. With occasional glimpses of Union Home Minister Amit Shah who is the only leader who manages to hold his own against PM Modi on occasions such as this. PM Modi does not share the stage, and the focus interestingly is not on economic issues and the achievements of the country but on the Hindu-Muslim factor against the hazy background of the Ram Mandir. Hazy as it is not being rubbed in as the belle of the election ball, but is of course hailed as a major achievement that the Congress Party and the Opposition is out to negate.

However, the PM’s attention on the Muslims has not been found wanting with the first weeks of the campaign focusing on divisiveness in speeches that shocked the country, and indeed the world judging from the spate of articles and comments. The Muslims were singled out as a community by the Prime Minister of India for targeted drubbing, as the greedy and irresponsible people (to put it mildly) waiting to swallow the spoils that the Congress Party was going to steal from the Hindus to appease the minorities. He went on in this vein for a while, but then suddenly appeared to have done a volte face where in an interview with those who try to pass off as journalists today, insisted that he was not speaking against the Muslims. In fact quite the contrary, And that he always had room and space to accommodate the minorities. A short hiatus and then again an attack.

So the result is a bit of confusion and bewilderment, but unlike in the previous general elections a negation of the Muslim factor in the process. The stereotype is failing to hold, against unemployment, price rise, and the cattle menace that seems to have overtaken parts of Uttar Pradesh with the Hindus even in erstwhile polarised zones like north east Delhi speaking out for peace and harmony. Enough, seems to be the message from the people who had voted for the BJP earlier, we need peace to develop. A back to the basics that had been lost sight of for the last ten years, eclipsed entirely by the personality of the Prime Minister and the big promises made by him and the BJP in the wake of heavy communal polarisation.

The construction of the Ram Mandir given the division within the Hindu clerics has not emerged as a major issue, and is definitely not proving to be the elixir with the potency to drug the masses. The record on rights, employment, and prices is not solid enough for even the PM to raise as his silence on these issues indicates. Instead the Opposition has raised the decibels that seem to be cutting ice with voters even in parts of north India, about Prime Minister Modi not speaking the truth. The social media is flooded these days with clips from his speeches and the ‘facts’ as they exist; as well as contradictory statements by him. Not the usual fawning and totally supportive social media that was so visible in the last two Lok Sabha elections that returned the BJP to power with a solid majority under an undisputed leader.

On the other hand, the Congress Party and the entire I.N.D.I.A. bloc campaign seems to be gathering strength. The leaders are following a two pronged strategy - one to attack the Prime Minister word for word and two, to state their promises and give guarantees that are echoing across the wasted constituencies of Uttar Pradesh and other states as well. While the south is following the trajectory of federalism with the Congress in Karnataka, the Left in Kerala and the DMK in Tamil Nadu on an almost similar platform; the same has started echoing in the north in a different form. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is carrying the Constitution of India that he pulls out at public rallies warning the people that their rights incorporated within are going to be snatched away by the BJP; Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav making it clear that another term for the BJP at the centre will ensure the end of the Constitution of India; Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal fresh out of jail making it clear over and over again that the oppressed and the marginalised of India will be targeted mercilessly by PM Modi if he is elected again, and so on.

Our culture, our language, our rights are in danger is the Opposition voice from the south. Our rights, our reservation, our existence is the corresponding campaign in the North. The potency of this is increasing, as it is also being added to joblessness with I.N.D.I.A. targeting the visibly frustrated youth all over the country. Local issues are also being added to the anger over the Agniveer scheme such as the paper leak scandals in UP which led to the cancellation of major recruitment exams. Akhilesh Yadav is not hesitating to point out that the papers were leaked by the BJP deliberately as they did not want to give jobs to the people. And judging from the people’s responses this argument seems to be working.

Lists and numbers are being floated around but these seem to have little by way of evidence and facts. Wishful thinking seems to be the main science behind the lists, some giving a reduced majority to the BJP, others vanquishing it completely. However, it is a fact that judging from the rallies in Amethi and Raebareli there is an Opposition resurgence in UP at the moment, whether it holds or translates into votes remains to be seen. What is interesting is that the farmers, the youth,, the Jats and the Upper Castes who were seen to be solidly behind the BJP seem to be shifting in the crucial state of UP which holds 80 parliamentary seats but as we all know, turbulence and churning often has a way of snapping back just before and on polling day. But then, it also has been known to move into a wave that even the voters did not see coming.