BJP's Sleeper Cells Are Active Again; We Know How To Handle It

The rumour mills have been activated again. The whisper campaign that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government's days are numbered is rippling through "friendly" media houses of the BJP. Every time the Maharashtra government reaches a milestone or makes the right moves, a contrary narrative is raised and the perception of a fragile government is floated. It is hardly a surprise that as the MVA completes a year in power, the sleeper cells of the BJP have been activated.

How to thwart the attempts of these sleeper cells is a special talent of the experienced leaders of the MVA government.

After we witnessed more intrigue and machinations than a whole season of Game of Thrones, Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on November 28, 2019. The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress came together, history was created and a new chapter began in the state.

Maharashtra was to celebrate its 60th year of statehood and the Chief Minister began by giving impetus to businesses and farmers and creating an environment that attracted investments and provided stimulus to the rural economy. In his first important meeting with top corporates of the state, he sought inputs and assured all support in removing obstacles.

The first assembly session saw promises made to farmers fulfilled. Shiv Bhojan Thalis - nutritious food at subsidised rates - were launched for the poorest.

The government worked on the target of taking the state to a one trillion dollar economy and ensuring all bottlenecks were removed.

However, as the COVID pandemic raged globally, Maharashtra took a big hit because of heavy international passenger movement. Without creating panic or hysteria the Chief Minister and his team enforced a phased lockdown and went about building capacities for beds, ICUs, testing labs; leveraging technology to get real-time updates and transparent data and firming up public private partnerships to ensure the state could handle cases.

The state saw a massive caseload, especially in Mumbai (as was typical of every dense coastal city globally), but it was handled scientifically and methodically. The Chief Minister was very reassuring in every address to the state, speaking more like a concerned family member on dos and don'ts than as head of the state.

Today Maharashtra, with its "Mission Begin Again" and the "My family, My Responsibility" awareness campaign, has managed to control the numbers while many states are seeing another surge. As the world comes closer to getting a vaccine, Maharashtra has already set up a task force with an action plan to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine across the state.

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If COVID-19 was not challenging enough, the opposition made it worse with its politics of opportunism in the time of the pandemic. Instead of working together, keeping humanity above politics, they chose a diametrically opposite path; history will judge them for the role they played in the time of crisis.

Here is a snapshot of the BJP's role as opposition in Maharashtra - letters to the state Governor, protests at places of worship, misuse of social media to push fake stories, wild, baseless allegations on news channels and silence when it came to GST dues from the centre. But every time they pulled these stunts, the people of the state showed more faith in the Chief Minister.

The alliance has only emerged stronger in the turbulence of the pandemic and egregious politics, and it is now clear that it will continue to work cohesively on the path to progress. The BJP has tried every trick to cause misunderstandings among the three partners, even cooking up stories. But it is clearly failing.

The state BJP must realise that spreading vicious gossip and slander and character assassination through their news channels and social media bots is futile. Misusing agencies such as Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax, CBI and - the latest to join the group - Narcotics Control Bureau will not be enough to return them to power, especially after the embarrassment of an early morning swearing-in ceremony.

A year has passed with everyone working well together and people backing the government. The storm has passed, the weather is clear, the mood is upbeat.

(Priyanka Chaturvedi is Member of Rajya Sabha and Deputy Leader Shiv Sena)

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