By Fida Firdous
The second wave of Covid-19 has not only wreaked havoc across India but as a result of it, there’s, perhaps for the first time, a criticism that’s hard to get away with, for the Prime Minister himself. Otherwise, why a person with an image of strongman will come out in public and cry? It’s that serious an issue both for the government at the centre and the Bahartiya Janata Party as a political entity.
But as we try to analyze the kind of communication strategy being employed by the ruling dispensation to counter the growing criticism, it’s essential to understand the gravity of situation, people have lost their loved ones, the loss is personal and any sort of denial of it will further dent the credibility of the government.
Now then, as we are about to witness the unfolding of a communication campaign on part of the ruling dispensation to overcome the crises, it must not make a coordinal sin of denying the sufferings as result of its failure to anticipate or even recognize the gravity of the situation. However, it can for sure propagate its good work, most of which has gone unrecognized largely due to the failure of public relations and media strategy.
At a time when the centre has decentralized the fight against Covid-19 in face of a crises, there’s within it an opportunity to decentralize the responsibility and credit for success as well. The buck doesn’t essentially stop with the Prime Minister. The ruling dispensation knows this, perhaps that’s why the state governments are being blamed for the failure but there’s no such decentralization of credit for successes. The ruling dispensation needs to understand, the best way out of the crises is to get out of it. The crises have deepened to the extent that there’s nothing on offer for the Prime Minister to add on his image.
Take for example the case of Jammu and Kashmir, a centrally governed territory, the performance of the government in face of the pandemic both in during the first and second wave has been simply to say brilliant and it can be proved with facts. Manoj Sinha led administration can be credited for it and such decentralization of credit for successes can rescue the BJP form the crises, it’s sinking in at the national level.
Given the fact that the fatality rate in Jammu and Kashmir has been very low in comparison to the other parts of country, so has been the spread of infection and oxygen shortage. This can spin to advantage of the Modi led government, a). to push for a narrative that recognizes Covid appropriate behavior i.e. to say cooperation on part of public, fundamental to the fight against Covid-19, b). an absolute control of the situation without any interference of the local governing bodies especially those controlled by the political opponents.
Now then, when we go back to the example of Jammu and Kashmir, it’s essential to understand the mantra set by the Lieutenant Governer Manoj Sinha. In contrast to elsewhere the administration in Jammu and Kashmir didn’t called it a victory at the end of first wave, there was factually no relaxation on part of the local administration with respect to the Covid appropriate behavior. Specifically, when the Prime Minister was for Tulip visit the Sinha led administration was for containment and cautious by issuing number of directions to regulate the public space within the territory.
Among other things, is the scientific approach adopted by the administration in Jammu and Kashmir. Sinha has himself presided over the functioning and meeting of the health care officials including medical experts. The administration led by Sinha has taken stern actions to curb any deviation from the medical science, perhaps which is why the law enforcement agencies have taken immediate action against self claimed healers claiming to have the cure for Covid-19. This has reflected in the society’s collective behavior with respect to the pandemic.
The credit therefore, if decentralized will place Sinha as an able administrator. But then, Sinha is an appointee of the center i.e. to say both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister must be applauded for identifying an able administrator for the newly established union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It’s surly an aspect for the entre to cultivate upon, to restore people’s faith in the Prime Minister’s ability to rule with good governance.
Fida Firdous is a peace preacher and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org