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International Institutions, Governance and COVID-19 Crisis in Pakistan

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Authors: Asfandiyar Khan and Areeja Syed  

International organization and global governance are very important factor to run the system of the world. To protect the lives of the world population international institution and global governance can play are very effective and influential role. In the past we have harrowing failures in Rwanda and Somalia still searing our memories, and Syria and Darfur’s. There are many international institution and international organization in the world that are controlling different aspects and affairs of the world. The absence of a robust global regulatory regime governing financial transaction and innovations helped heighten the effects of the 2007-2008 global financial and economic crisis, plunging western economies into more than half a decade of recession and sparring little of the rest of the world. Just a decade earlier, the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 -98 had also drawn attention to the inequalities of global financial governance, including to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) role in exacerbating the crisis. The global development architecture has presided over the feeblest of reductions in the proportion of the world’s population living on less than US$ 1.25 per day. Our world is organized in such a way that around 1.5 to 2.5 billion people have little or no access to the more basic needs. Unprecedented growth in the gap between rich and poor has occurred within and across the nation. These international institution and international organization are trying to eradicate poverty and to provide the basic needs of the life. But the efforts of these organizations and institution are negligible they don’t try honestly. Sometimes these institution and organization are exacerbating the crisis, like IMF. To some extent these organizations are exploiting the poor and 3rd world countries.

International Organizations and the diffusion of Power

There are two schools of thought regarding the relationship between international organizations (IOs) and the diffusion of power. One school suggests that IOs are conservative organization that are designed to freeze the existing configuration of power. If they are doing their job, then they are not diffusion power. The other is that IOs are expected to pluralize power. The world is constituted by radical inequalities of power, with some state having an abundance and others a scarcity, and the United Nations and other IOs essential to global governance help to level the playing field by giving an opportunity for the weak to have a voice and neglected issues to be seen. The essence is that both camps are right: IOs can be defenders of the powerful and agents of reform. International organization plays very important role in the global order. There are several best-known theories see IOs as preserving the existing distribution of power and interests.

There are different theories regarding International organizations; Realists see IOs as playthings of states and Marxists as instruments of capitalism and even institutionalism who grant that IO staff have some relative autonomy and discretion, are limited in their ability or desire to effect real change. Critical and constructivist theories acknowledge that IOs are defenders of the status quo, but they also provide theoretical and conceptual grounds for observing real independence and the attempt to provide greater equality of opportunities for other actors. International organizations preserve and promote the interest of the greater states; World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are able to use their capital to force borrowing states to adopt “best practices,” slash budgets and redirect economics resources. Pakistan have bailout packages many time from IMF but it didn’t help Pakistan. Because of IMF strict conditions and its policies Pakistan could not escape from the grip of IMF.

IOs constituted by global liberalism are defenders of an international order that contains the ingredients for the diffusion of power (through compulsory or institutional power). Compulsory and institutional power illuminate the relationship between IOs and the diffusion of power. IOs are two-faced they can either preserve or diffuse power, altering the underlying social relations that limit or enhance the ability of actors to control the circumstances of their lives. They also are relatively autonomous actors. Lastly, they can be linked to the diffusion and preservation of power in and through their position in existing structures, but they also can be linked to these effects through their actions. The world culture values of democracy and technocracy can help diffuse power, but we want to close with a word of warning: these values can be operating at cross-purposes. A classic dilemma of modern liberal governance is the presumed trade-off between democracy and technocracy. In democracy (or the rule of the people), there is deference to respect the “general will,” the “majority,” and the “will of the people” on various grounds, including autonomy, liberty, and the belief that the people know best. In technocracy (or the rule of experts), there is difference to those who have specific knowledge. The immediate implication is that the rule of experts can be anti-democratic. Experts are not expected to always respect the preferences of the people but instead are supposed to use their presumably objective judgment. In these and other instances, outsiders feel justified in ignoring or dismissing the stated needs of the people. For instance, peacebuilders often argue that they cannot practice the democracy that they preach because war-torn societies do not have the institutions to enable them to debate and aggregate preferences and because listening to the “people” might mean privileging the powerful and thus reproducing existing societal inequalities. This suggests the possibility that moral progress might depend not on the revolutionary character of the “people” but rather on the role of morally minded elite. Regardless of whether on thinks the elitism has its positive qualities, it is indisputably anti-democratic. In the race between technocracy and democracy, arguably technocracy seems to be winning. If so, International Organizations might be diffusing and conserving power for themselves.

The Crisis of COVID-19 in the World and a Case Study of Pakistan

COVID-19 outbreak was first time experienced in the Wuhan City of China at the end of December 2019. Which spread rapidly in China and then worldwide in 209 countries of America, Europe, Australia and Asia including Pakistan. There are more than fifty thousand mortalities and one million plus people have been affected worldwide, while figure increases rapidly. Different steps have been taken worldwide for the control of COVID-19. Even with less resources Pakistan also taken rigorous measures like designed special hospitals, Laboratories for testing, quarantine facilities, awareness campaign and lock down to control the spread of virus. We highlighted the efforts of government to combat this deadly pneumonia. The COVID-19 outbreak was treated as a case of pneumonia with unknown etiology appeared in the Wuhan city of China, at the end of December 2019, which spread across the country to worldwide with a high rate. The PRC (People’s Republic of China) Centre for Disease Control (CDC) analyzed the respiratory samples and declared that the pneumonia was caused by a novel coronavirus which named the pneumonia as Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia (NCP). The coronavirus is one of the major virus that target the respiratory system of the human. The Chinese researchers named the virus as 2019-nCoV. Later, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Virus named the novel coronavirus as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). On the same day, February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) name the Pneumonia as Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19)

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID 19 outbreak as sixth public health of emergency Services (SPHEC) on January 30, 2020. This was not the first outbreak of the coronavirus. The previous coronavirus outbreaks include Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) outbreak and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak. The COVID-19 thought the third outbreak of the coronavirus which affected more than 209 countries including Pakistan. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), total of 1,093,349 confirmed cases with 58,620 mortalities. To date, the number of highest positive cases encountered in USA followed by Italy and Spain.

The border countries of Pakistan highly affected including China, where the COVID-19 outbreak experienced first time. In the west, Italy with highest number of COVID-19 mortalities while in the north, Iran a high number of mortalities after the Italy. In Pakistan, the first case of COVID-19 has been confirmed by the Ministry of Health, government of Pakistan on February 26, 2020 in Karachi, Sindh province. On the same day another case confirmed by the Pakistan Federal Ministry of Health in Islamabad. Within fifteen days, the number of total confirmed cases (COVID-19 Positive) reached to twenty (20) out of 471 suspected cases with highest numbers in the Sindh province followed by the Gilgit Baltistan. All of the confirmed cases had recent travel history from Iran, Syria and London. And currently these cases increase by high rate and the situation is worst. The geographical location of Pakistan, with the continuous increases in the number of CVOID-19 positive cases need a high level of action, planes and management. On 12th of February, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination Pakistan presented a plane “National Action Plan for Preparedness & Response to Corona Virus Disease (Covid-19) Pakistan”, the aims to control the spreading of virus and to strengthen country and community emergency preparedness in order to ensure a timely, efficient and effective response to potential events due to Covid-19 including. The local, regional and national outbreaks that can have a significant impact on the health of Pakistani population and society. To date, different steps have been taken by the government of Pakistan against COVID-19 outbreak. In this review, we highlighted the different steps taken by the government of Pakistan against CoVID-19, such as designated hospitals, quarantine centers, testing facilities, treatments, public awareness and the response of local community against COVID-19 outbreak.

The current situation in Pakistan

According to the Ministry of Health, Government of Pakistan, there are total of 12227 confirmed positive cases in the country with total 287 mortalities on Saturday, April 25,2020. The highest cases appeared in the Punjab province (5046) followed by Sindh 4232, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 1708, Baluchistan 656, Gilgit Baltistan 307, Islamabad 223, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir have 55 confirmed cases. Total recovered cases are 2,755.

Facilitation by government of Pakistan against COVID-19

The Government of Pakistan is taking all the measures against the COVID-19 to provide and insure the responsibilities of the state for their people. Since the first day when the first case was conformed in Karachi city of Sindh all the services and measures were used with the extreme capabilities to ensure the safeness of life in the region. Meanwhile, all the cases have a travel history, suggesting transmission elsewhere being imported in the country. The government of Pakistan provides the COVID-19 mitigation strategies with their measures. Such as early case detection and Tracing and tracking of contacts, Risk communication, Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

The Government of Pakistan has established a COVID-19 Relief Fund to receive donation for the welfare of publics. Social network helplines were launched by the Government in seven (07) local languages. Communication Task Force Baluchistan with the support of UNHCR has developed IEC material in Dari and Pashto Languages. The materials will be distributed in all villages with refugees in Baluchistan. The Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has issued directives for closure of OPDs and elective surgical services from 1-13 April 2020 in all the Tertiary Care Hospitals, District Headquarters Hospitals and Private Clinics throughout the province. The Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) has allocation $ 60 million to Global Response plan for COVID-19. Sindh Government has established first drive through COVID-19 Testing facility in Karachi.

Hospitals for COVID-19 in Pakistan

The arrangements to fight against the COVID-19, there are lots of measures being taken by the government of Pakistan to control the outbreak and facilitate their people. There were many hospitals been working in this scenario to bring back the life and fight against the deadly outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

In the capital territory Islamabad, there was a single hospital functional. While in the Baluchistan, there were 10 hospitals for COVID-19. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) 7, Punjab (PJB) 6, Sindh (SD) 4, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) 4, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) 3 hospitals were functional.

Designated hospitals

Specific hospitals have been approved for admission and management of suspected and confirmed based upon availability of quality isolation wards at Federal, provincial and regional level. Each institute and hospital are expected to conduct need and availability assessment of supplies (equipment, personal protective equipment, laboratory diagnostics) and including identification of sources to ensure provision and availability of PPEs and other equipment. Notify and train IPC (Infection prevention and control) team at the designated hospitals. A trained IPC focal person be nominated to ensure the IPC measures implanted and imbedded. The recently drafted National IPC guidelines/SOPs (Standard operational procedure) will be distributed and implemented which are following;

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been developed and disseminated for waste    management at hospitals and airports. Local SOPs should be established and available in all HCFs with appropriate training of the staff assigned to handle the waste.

Disinfection and Environmental decontamination SOPs were developed.

Isolation wards were built all over Pakistan to prepare for COVID-19 pandemic, Province/Region wise number of designated Hospitals ICT-01, Punjab-06, Sindh-04, Baluchistan-10, KP-07, GB-04 and AJK-03. The total number of beds in isolation wards in whole country are 23,557 were established. In capital territory Islamabad 350 beds, Punjab 10,948, Sindh 2,100, Baluchistan 5,897, KP 2,760, GB 972 and in AJK 530 beds facilities were established in isolation wards.

Future Prospects and Major Steps Should Take by Government of Pakistan

The COVID-19 coursed by SARS-CoV-2 in the Wuhan city of China which rapidly spread in 208 countries/regions including USA, UK, Italy, Spain and Pakistan. The current scenario of Pakistan is not satisfactory as Pakistan is much populated country where required more facilitation. Pakistan is a developing country where the financial position is not better as compared to China, USA, UK, Russia to combat with COVID-19 outbreak. The number of hospitals and quarantine facilities being not fulfilled as required. If these medical facilities improved, then it will not be difficult to control the transmission of viruses and treatment of patients. Currently the testing facilities are much lower than the required target. The testing facilities could increase by five to ten (5to 10) folds. The right steps should be taken to control the situation more worst such as staying at homes, lockdown, social distancing, using sanitizers, face mask when necessary. Pakistan needs more screening facilities for the arrivals as well as for the departures. It is hoped that Pakistan will overtake the COVID-19.

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The Taliban Finally Granted Permission to the Former President Karzai to leave Afghanistan

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Former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai. (Express photo by Nirupama Subramanian)

Based on the information, the former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was permitted to leave the country. At a time, when online meetings between Sohail Shaheen and American representatives are going on in connection with the start of intra-Afghan talks in Doha, The former president of the country, Hamid Karzai, was allowed to exit the country for the first time after August 15, 2021, when the Taliban took over. Nevertheless, it is not yet known when he will start his overseas trip, but his only purpose is to get preparation for the start of Intra-Afghan talks in Doha and to meet with American officials and foreign Afghan politicians. Since the end of October and the beginning of November, there are reports narrating that telephone calls are being made between President Hamid Karzai, and the US special representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West.

Besides, the persons are preparing for future negotiations, the re-established relationship between the former president Karzai and the CIA took place, when a CIA undercover intelligence officer met Karzai sometimes back, when he represented himself as an International media reporter. Sources suspect that the undercover agent interviewed the president under the auspices of a well-known German based Der Spiegel Magazine.

According to the information, former President Hamid Karzai will fly to Germany, while meeting with the CIA officials at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Meantime, the former President Hamid Karzai will meet with some high-ranking officials of Germany and then have separate meetings with Western politicians and intelligence officers. Furthermore, after that, President Hamid Karzai will meet with the American ambassador to lay out the strategy for the potential negotiations.

 Currently, there is a lot of confusion in the Mandigak palace in Kandahar province, where Taliban Spiritual leader and the decision making hub located and it is said that there have been serious discrepancies  regarding allowing him to go abroad. However, Sheikh Haibatullah’s position is still neutral about his exit, while negotiating with his advisors to make a final decision in the upcoming days.

Nonetheless, there are no other specific differences regarding the permission. It is only the low-ranking Taliban fighters, who demand the precise judgement of the Taliban’s leader in this concern; In addition, some Taliban leaders are also unhappy about the whole process, especially the former members of the Quita Council of Taliban.

Now the ball is in the Taliban’s ground, whether they are ready to comply with the demands of the international community, by transferring the power to a transitional government or not, and to get along with the United States and get onboard the international community support. Definitely, it causes further splintering among Taliban groups and ISKP will use it as an opportunity to recruit Taliban fighters, while paving the way for regrouping in Khorasan Province the IS so-called territory.

The ISKP long before blamed Taliban for being ‘’ Rafeda’’, while simultaneously cooperating with the US, Russia, China and Iran for their political ambitions.  To conclude, the Afghan people will not accomplish a lasting peace and sustainable economic developments, since the country will turn into a new battle filed among countries, which have stake in Afghanistan.

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The Charisma and Chaos of Imran Khan

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PTI Chairman Imran Khan gestures at the march participants as his convoy arrives in Gujranwala on November 1, 2022. — Instagram

The chances of Imran Khan winning the elections of 2018 were quite murky. Despite his unparalleled fan base and populist rhetoric appeals to the young, and labor class of Pakistan, the legitimacy of his government is marred with allegations of fraud, rigging, and exploitation.

Some argue that his candidacy was a marketing tactic used by the ‘Establishment’ in Pakistan to form a government that is rather weak and dependent so that the ‘Establishment’ can continue its control over domestic security issues including the Nuclear escalation and relations with India.

But by and large, Khan won the elections.

Maybe it was the stardom attached to the name ‘Imran Khan’ and Pakistanis not wanting to confide in the same faces ruling them for centuries.

Maybe it was the mismanagement and violence that marred election day with unfathomable delays in result declaration in metropolis cities, coupled with post-poll manipulation.

Maybe it was the judicial-military nexus, that placed all the votes in the right places by not allowing voters to use their will during elections.

Maybe it was the 7 years-old narcotics case hearing moving forward against the stalwart of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Hanif Abbasi, giving him a life sentence in a rare late-night session of court, four days ahead of the elections that effectively knocked PML-N out of the race.

But the deal was done and can’t be undone and Imran Khan became the Prime Minister of Pakistan, for better or worse.

Khan the Celebrity

Pakistani nationals were victims of the financial crisis, unemployed people, those who lost their homes, and who were in debt; these people felt like the two parties ruling Pakistan for centuries had destroyed their country’s economy.

Imran Khan, with his humongous stardom as an athlete and philanthropist, seemed like the only ‘Messiah’ that could save them from all the atrocities they were facing.

Though, a significant number of votes were cast in favor of PML-N but not in the places that would have locked the win. So Imran Khan, persuaded the angry Pakistanis, the youth, and the labor class who were fed up with being handed over in trade deals with other nations.

Khan, a socialite that he was, knew how to connect with these agitated masses. Their grievances were clear as a day and so he gave them pretty promises wrapped up in his vibrant rallies filled with catchy songs. His huge social media presence along with the ‘Naya Pakistan’ slogan further amplified his staunch.

But there lies a challenge as to why Khan became the top highlight of this era. To many who were tired of politicians filling their own pockets, and amid the corruption charges on Nawaz Sharif, Khan’s celebrity status, his colorful personality, his promise of a corruption-free Pakistan, and his unconventional ‘Don’t Panic’ attitude – all of this made Khan seem like the only option who would deliver a better life and nation and, if not that, then at least would be the eradicator of what Pakistan had become.

Khan the Totalitarian

The other side of the coin sees Imran Khan as a narcissist, self-centered, and power-hungry mogul. After achieving his eternal craving of becoming the Prime Minister, he hardly showed any respect for the institutions of the country. More often than not he refused to attend the sessions of Parliament, with his excuse being the presence of members of the opposition party whom he referred to as ‘Crooks’ and ‘Chors’ (thieves).

This resulted in laws, instead of passing through an ordinary law-making process, being passed through presidential ordinances, with very limited power. We can clearly say that these laws were passed without debate, consensus, and thorough examination, negating the very foundation of constitutional requirements.

Additionally, Khan likes to fabricate stories in his speeches, a lot. In this vein, he brings down any democratic provision that proves him wrong, including targeting political parties on concocted charges of corruption; sustained attacks on the media; undermining law authorities, even the Supreme Court is not exempted from his allegations.

Through the abrogation of rule of law, irresponsible remarks about institutions, and disdain toward democracy, Khan himself created a fragile parliamentary system, which then collapsed on him. Not only this, but he has fractured the already dwindling democracy of Pakistan into a whole new level.

Khan the Leader

Khan came onto the political scene when Pakistan was facing a volatile situation both at home and abroad, coupled with the tensions going on with the Americas, and the rampant inflation, he was still able to take some impressive measures. His work related to health, relief programs, house loans, the environment, entrepreneurship, and the COVID response is admirable.

In addition, his billion tree tsunami and the building of several small dams initiated an environment-friendly drive in the climate change-affected country. But was he able to deliver on the ‘Promises’ made to the nation? Absolutely Not.

Perhaps he should have paid more attention to the cabinet as the abrupt changes in the system dwindled the confidence of investors in Pakistan’s economic machinery. His careless handling of some important economic programs including the CPEC decelerated the capital influx that caused the GDP to drop considerably.

To top it all off, Pakistan, in 2021 dropped from 124th place to 140th place according to Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), leaving an ugly mark on Khan’s corruption eradication promises on which he has led the foundation of his political career. Maybe he should have abided by the agenda of progression in order to gear up his performance instead of getting involved in blame and shame politics.

Khan the funambulist

The important reason why Khan has a cult following in Pakistan is his unfiltered and raw opinions about topics like the Americas, and Afghanistan which he keeps casting in his speeches. And, the audience, mostly the social media-induced young generation eats it all up like a sweet concoction, without paying heed to the implications it will bring to the foreign policy of Pakistan.

Khan’s decision to appoint Usman Buzdar, an underqualified and inexperienced newcomer to a vital position in the key city of Punjab pretty much sums up his political foresight. Perhaps, the most interesting yet debatable contrivance of his regime is his relentless attitude toward the United States, no previous Prime Minister of Pakistan was able to say ‘Absolutely No’ to the US as it had many allies in the domestic political platform of Pakistan. This stance of Khan was admired a lot in the country, with the phrase being trending in Pakistan. But the remarks came with ramifications for Pakistan on the international forum. This whole scenario further makes people question his political sanity.

Imran Khan possesses all the characteristics of a populist leader and in Populism: A Very Short Introduction, Cas Mudde says: “Populists are dividers, not uniters” they split society into “two homogenous and antagonistic groups: the pure people on the one end and the corrupt elite on the other.” True to this narration, Khan has divided the nation into two groups of ‘Evil and Good’ people, and the consequences are detrimental to the stability of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Conclusion

To sum it all up, Imran Khan, despite his misgivings, his warts, his narcissism, and his unhinged political views, is still able to reach a class of people that have seen Pakistan erode for centuries and consider him the last hope for the country. But he certainly is not the best choice for democracy as his political understanding is ruined by his self-righteous approach. In this manner, he is no better than former US President Trump who incited his supporters to pass on the U.S. Capitol to forestall the peaceful transition of power after his electoral defeat. It is precise to say that Pakistan has fallen into a deep cauldron and only a Magic Wand can heal it at this point. Though Khan has not singularly created this cauldron, he most definitely is exploiting and feeding on it.

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Chattisgarh Elections 2023: Future of United Progressive Alliance and BJP

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Chattisgarh, the 9th largest state of India by area and 17th most populous state with population of 30 Million will go to votes in upcoming elections in 2023. Chattisgarh saw an electoral shift in 2018 when voters chose INC lead United Progressive Alliance over BJP which was into the power since 2003. The legislative assembly comprises of 90 constituencies and population demography favors the Hindu’s with 93.05%, Muslims are major minority with 2.02% and Christians make up 1.92% of the population of Chattisgarh. The major contenders in the elections are United Progressive Alliance, which came into power in 2018. The major parties in the Alliance are Indian National Congress (INC), Dravida Munnetra Kazghagam, Janta Dal (United), Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party. This alliance faces BJP as major gladiator of the Elections.

INC lead United Progressive Alliance Government

In 2018 elections, United Progressive Alliance defeated BJP in the state to form the government. Previously BJP enjoyed three successive tenures in power. The Alliance proved to be vital in defeating the ex-ruling party and Bhupesh Baghel of INC was sworn in as new CM of Chattisgarh. The newly elected government opted for the developmental model in the state with their activities ranging from sports to health and good governance. The CM gave the vision of ‘Employment Mission’ which aimed at providing 15 lac jobs to people of Chattisgarh. The government provided the masses with the vision of ‘trust, development and security’ in order to remain popular and hence their projects based upon wellness of the general public. The CM started ‘Khelbo-Jeetbo-Gadhbo Nova Chattisgarh’ scheme in order to enhance sports infrastructure and facilities for youth of Chattisgarh. The scheme covered major as well as local games. The government also launched ‘ Makhyamantri Haat Bazar Clinics’ scheme in order to provide and ensure health services in rural and remote areas of the state. This scheme received a lot of praises from the masses during pandemic period. Government also enhanced education sector by setting up more than 600 Hindi and English medium schools. CM launched ‘Swami Atmanand English Medium Education System’ in all districts of the state. The scheme aimed at setting up of the English medium colleges for the students. The government under CM Baghel, also faced severe opposition in form BJP. The BJP criticized government of corruption, farm loans and internal rift among government officials. The CM also survived ‘No Confidence Motion’ tabled by BJP in the legislative assembly in July 2022.

BJP and Caste votes

Caste permutation and combinations have always played a role of dominating factor in the state of Chattisgarh. The state is amalgamation of upper castes, schedule castes (SC), Schedule tribes (ST) and Other Backward Castes (OBCs). The Kurmi’s and Sahu’s dominate upper castes in the state. One third of the population is composed of Scheduled tribes (ST), while Schedule castes (SC) make up 12% of the population and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) are 41% of the population. Upper castes and OBCs have traditionally tilted in the favor of BJP. SC votes have been divided among BJP, INC and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). In 2013 however, BJP swept through 9 out of 10 constituencies of SC reserved seats. Dalit vote bank also has an influential role in elections. There exists around 12% of Dalit vote splitting between BJP and BSP. This vote bank influences 40 constituencies of the state. BJP is also counting upon Sahu’s votes in order to gain power back in upcoming Chattisgarh elections.

Chattisgarh as home ground of Hindutva

Chattisgarh has seen a violent shift when it comes to application of agenda of Hindutva. RSS and its political affiliate BJP have targeted Chattisgarh for Hindutva onslaught. The norms of Hindu identity have gone deep down into the roots of the society. ‘Ghar Wapsi’ scheme is gaining influence in Chandigarh. In March 2022, a ceremony was held and 1250 people returned to Hindu dharma. In states like Odisha, Chattisgarh and Jharkand more than 10,000 people have returned to Hindu dharma. BJP has developed a narrative of targeting Congress for miseries of Hindu’s all around India. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) an affiliate of RSS has been provided with security umbrella of BJP and it has forced Churches in Chattisgarh to use name of ‘Acharya’ and ‘Up-Acharya’ instead of ‘Father’. VHP has also forced churches to display images and painting of Hindu goddess ‘Saraswati’ in churches. The organization has also forces churches to distribute ‘Prasad’ instead of sweets at the eve of Christmas, thereby attacking the root identities of Christianity in the state. Around the time when BJP formed the government in center in 2014, 5 villages in Bastar district of Chattisgarh were banned for non-Hindu practices. Hindu leaders in Chattisgarh are calling for killing of any individual who tries to convert Hindus into any other religion. The Equation between the minorities and Hindus started changing since 2003, when BJP was installed into power in Chattisgarh. The change has intensified now when BJP is also present in Center. 

Bet on Youth’s vote

The youth vote bank in Chattisgarh can be the turning point in the upcoming elections. The major gladiators BJP and United Progressive Alliance are eyeing the vote share of youth in the state. The initiatives started by the CM Baghel, progressively targets the youth and their development. However, BJP accuses the current INC lead state government of unemployment among the youth. The tussle between the major contenders in the state is pivoted for Youth vote. The saffron party has also targeted youth with the identity confrontation within the framework of Hindutva. However, the INC lead coalition government is centered on the agenda of developmental and governance model for the youth rather than targeting and convincing youth on identity based vote bank. The youth from minority section of the population may opt for INC and United Progressive alliance for the power in state but saffron influenced youth and upper castes are likely to put their weight in BJP’s favor.

Conclusion

Chattisgarh elections 2023 will play a major role in determining the BJPs future in center as well. Chattisgarh has been the power bank for BJP since 2003 but shift in 2018 has taken BJP by shock and surprise. However, upcoming elections can also prove to be referendum of policies applied by BJP at national level. INC will also have to investigate its depth in masses as well. The future of alliance mostly depends upon the INC performance in the state elections. The General Elections can also be strategically targeted by INC in form of alliance and coalition seat shares in order to give tough time BJP which is by far thriving among the masses at national level.

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