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Electing to dent India by running down each other’s states  

Aditya aamir

If Gujarat was no-holds barred, wait for the Karnataka assembly elections, which are slated for mid-2018. Electioneering has already started in the Congress-ruled state. A disturbing trend is both the BJP and Congress are painting states where they do not rule in poor light, in the process denting India’s hard-earned image.

Countries and multinationals looking to invest in India might get some negative “tips” from both these parties as they run down each other’s states.

The BJP has fielded its Yogi chief minister to lead the campaign in Karnataka and the saffron-clad Adityanath got off the block by stating that Karnataka has been “pushed five years back” by the Congress government. That could hold back foreign investors from looking to invest in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India.

Not to be outdone, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has suggested that the UP Chief Minister should pick up some “tips” from Karnataka to fight starvation deaths in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress counts its Indira Canteens and ration shops in Karnataka as successful hunger-busters. The idea for the Indira Canteens was picked from late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s hugely popular Amma Canteens.

Bent on doing harm to India’s image as an emerging economy with all states on the same page when it comes to development and that the Indian economy draws strength from every state, both chief ministers drew such an imagery of each other’s states that foreign investors would see only a dirty canvas of utter poverty, starvation and bigotry and corruption.

If Karnataka is being reduced to the corrupt offshoot of a diseased plant, Uttar Pradesh is being shown as a state where skeletal ribcages line up outside ration shops which have run out of supplies. If this doesn’t enforce an image of India that lives on nothing but husk what will?

Corruption and hunger are election issues no doubt but to use them to paint a grim picture at the expense of the image of India and its perception in countries mulling where to park their caches of FDI is not going to help any state.

The corrupt in India are like vermin, they are everywhere but to advertise it to the world is criminal and foolish. As for hunger, much of the world’s global citizens look at India as a country populated with stunted and emaciated children and undernourished and malnourished mothers.

The Yogi’s ATM analogy of the Congress Party is a powerful imagery. It will be understood by people speaking any language. And Siddaramaiah’s tips to Adityanath to avoid starvation in his home state puts Uttar Pradesh as prime destination to hold the Hunger Games.

When  Yogi lambasts the Congress for its “anti-development policies” it does not help Karnataka and its many industries crying out for foreign investment. Add corruption to the mix and for some investors Karnataka will be a strict no-go investment destination. No amount of Moody’s ratings will help, Standard & Poor will be the set standard for “poor”.

Even if Siddaramaiah wins the election his “Karnataka Model of Development” will not be trusted by many investors because of the lasting image of corruption painted by no less than BJP, the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the face of emerging India with his ‘Make in India’ Lion.

Stung by some of Siddaramaiah’s barbs, Yogi Adityanath raked up farmer suicides and “death of honest officers”, a fact nobody in his right mind will want of his state to be advertised to the world at large.

And when the Yogi talks of deteriorating law and order and of the murders and lawlessness in Karnataka, he is scaring not only foreign businessmen and women from taking a flight to India, he is also signaling tourists to avoid Karnataka if they fly to India.

Political parties and politicians are entitled to raising issues to attack rivals during an election campaign but they should not make it a ‘my state is better your state’ because all states make up India and if India’s image suffers then nobody wins.

Yogi Adityanath has taken his cow politics to Karnataka and Siddaramaiah has said he is no less a Hindu. With that both are expected to wander into alleys and lanes where some of their activists might become animals. If that happens it will be very bad for Karnataka and Utter Pradesh and India too will not shine.

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