Rajat Sharma


AKBThe world is amazed as it watches visuals of commoners attacking the Pakistan army installations and vehicles in the aftermath of nationwide violence following the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf chairman Imran Khan. Army has been called out to help civil administration in Islamabad, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. Mobs set fire to Radio Pakistan building in Peshawar and the corps commander’s residence in Lahore. The man on the street in Pakistan, who used to be in awe of the army in the past, has now decided to give the army a fight. People know that Imran Khan was arrested not by the National Accountability Bureau, but by the Army and ISI. Watching the fast-paced developments in Pakistan, I feel, Pakistan Army, ISI and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif have unwittingly made Imran Khan a hero again. When Imran Khan was Prime Minister, the man on the street was unhappy with his regime, because he failed to fulfil his promises. Imran Khan had made lofty promises before coming to power. He had floated ridiculous ideas for transforming Pakistan’s economy, but it was not practically possible to implement them in Pakistan. Imran Khan appeared to be failing as a Prime Minister. Had he remained in power, he might not have won elections again, but in Pakistan, important political decisions are not taken on the basis of prevailing public opinion. Neither the decision to unseat Imran Khan as PM was justified, nor the decision to grab him by his collar and putting him behind bars was correct. After being removed from power, Imran Khan went before the people and became a successful leader in a true sense. The words that he spoke a day before his arrest in a widely circulated video, caught the imagination of the people. The man on the street became ready to fight his battle against the establishment. That single video made Imran a mass leader among the people. The evidence lies in the fact that thousands of people have come out on the streets to protest and fight the army. The people are not scared of the army. These commoners, in the coming days and weeks, will become the biggest strength of Imran and his party. The surprising part is that neither the Pakistan Army nor Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his alliance partners are unwilling to read the writing on the wall.


It is very difficult to say how far the exit poll predictions for Karnataka assembly elections will prove to be true. Whenever an election is closely contested, it is difficult to predict the correct result. In 2018, the contest was close in Karnataka, and the elections threw up a hung assembly. All the opinion poll predictions proved false. One should not be surprised if the exit poll predictions prove wrong this time. There are some factors which are new this time. Firstly, Janata Dal(S) earlier used to be a big factor and was making most of the contests triangular, but this time, JD(S) is no more a big factor. There are straight contests between Congress and BJP for most of the seats this time. There was a clear change in Congress leadership this time unlike the earlier elections. The party properly managed infighting between its leaders, but the BJP failed to manage its leaders and the fighting came out in the open. Secondly, Congress was clear in its strategy this time. It decided to focus only on local issues. In the initial phase, there was no confusion in the party, but later, BJP changed the game. The moment Congress equated PFI with Bajrang Dal in its manifesto, it marked the entry of Lord Bajrangbali in the election and the Congress leadership was confused. The main election issue changed. The second biggest problem for the Congress was that it had not a single campaigner to match the charisma of Narendra Modi. The Prime Minister, through his rallies and road shows, changed the way the wind was blowing. Modi toiled hard, but the main campaigner for Congress, Rahul Gandhi appeared to be a reluctant campaigner. Nobody can say what will be the final result. No pollster could predict 282 for Modi in 2014 and 303 in 2019.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot attending an event in Nathdwara to launch projects worth Rs 5,500 crore. Later Modi addressed a BJP rally in Mount Abu with former CM Vasundhara Raje. At the official event, the crowd shouted slogans in favour of Modi and did not allow Gehlot to speak. Modi had to intervene and he requested the people to listen to their chief minister. A peeved Ashok Gehlot said, opposition must be given respect in a democracy. He appealed to the PM to clear several pending projects in Rajasthan. At his rally, Modi attacked the Congress saying Rajasthan ministers do not have time to work for public welfare. Modi said, neither the CM trusts his MLAs, nor the MLAs trust their CM. “A competition to insult each other is going on in Rajasthan”, Modi said. Modi has his own style of working. At government events, he functions as a Prime Minister, but at BJP meetings, his changes as a campaigner. At the government function, he asked Gehlot to sit beside him, introduced him as his friend and praised, but at the BJP meeting, Modi raised the issue of ongoing tussle between Gehlot and his rival Sachin Pilot. This is Modi’s hallmark. Moreover, once an election campaign is over, Modi starts another campaign. After visiting Rajasthan, Modi’s next stop will be Madhya Pradesh.

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