Balakot air strikes are believed to be a ‘game changer’.

 

New Delhi: Foreign diplomats who are stationed in Delhi in different designations in their respective embassies and consulates believe that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is going to regain power when the results of the ongoing elections are announced on 23 May.

It is pertinent to mention that analysing and preparing weekly political reports, especially during general elections, is one of the most vital functions of diplomats. These reports are then sent back to their country and are used to strategise, devise or change, if required, the country’s way of handling bilateral ties.

The Sunday Guardian interacted with diplomats of multiple countries between the fifth and seventh phases (6 May-19 May) to gauge what their reading of the elections was.

According to a senior diplomat from a Middle East country, as per their reading, which is based on speaking to bureaucrats, political observers and relying on their own “organic intelligence”, the present Narendra Modi government was in the best position to form the government. According to the official, the one incident that has given an otherwise “dull” tenure of Modi an upward thrust was the Balakot air strike. Describing it as a “watershed” event, the diplomat said that it has put India on a list of very few countries which had crossed over to the other country and carried out an air strike overtly.

“The air strike changed the entire text book when it comes to understanding India’s military response. It was a paradigm shift, which was not predicted by any of us. Politically, it increased the popularity of the Modi government several notches among the voters. We believe that when the results come on 23 May and they are analysed, the Balakot air strike will perhaps emerge as the game changer,” the diplomat said.

Another diplomat of a South East Asian country said that till the end of 2018, their summary of the Modi government was “lacklustre”. “It came to power with a lot of promise, something which it could not match up for a large part of its rule. That is one reason we believe that rather than improving on its performance of 2014, the NDA’s number will decrease slightly. However, our reading is that it will come back to power with Modi at the helm and we believe that in the next five years, India will witness a massive ‘shake’ at both the domestic and international levels as well as institutional changes in the economic front—something similar to what was witnessed when India opened its economy in the 1990s. Our understanding is that ‘bold’ decisions, which may be politically unfavourable in the short run, will be taken in the next few months,” the diplomat said.

A diplomat, who represents an Asian country, said it was a general consensus among his peer group that the NDA, with Modi at the helm, will form the government again. “We are able to look at things objectively since we do not have any bias for or against any party. The ‘There is no alternative’ (TINA) factor is very much helping the Indian Prime Minister. Congress has not been able to regain the trust of the voters that it lost due to the corruption taint which got stuck to it in UPA-2. On the governance level, things have improved, not deteriorated. Roads are a huge vote gainer for any government, something on which the present government has focused a lot. The Balakot strike has struck a very emotive chord and it is likely to emerge as a huge plus point for Modi,” she said.

Ever since the elections , the diplomats have been focusing more on the states of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh as they feel that these are the two states that will determine the results of 23 May. The diplomatic staff working in the “politics wing” in these embassies have been busy in preparing weekly reports related to these two states which are then dispatched to their country of origin.

 

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