Modi wave guarantees BJP victory in 2019
The impressive victories of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and the swiftness in forming governments in Goa and Manipur have stupefied the Congress beyond words. The Congress needs to be reminded that they have won the election in Punjab.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah have created an enviable record of election winning spree since 2014 which probably these two alone will break in the coming two years. By effectively decimating all opposition parties, the road to victory is free for the BJP is clear. In fact the 2019 Parliament election is likely to be one sided with no challenger for Modi. It is Modi versus nobody.
The 2014 election witnessed a unique change signalling the beginning of a new era in Indian politics. There is a generational change in the voter profile. While the pre 1947 generation has entered into their seventies, the new generation of young voters who lined up outside polling booths, had a glimmer of hope in their eyes. They did not want mere promises or largesse. They were looking for opportunities to work, make money and improve their standards of life. The internet savvy generation of boys and girls want education and jobs, they want to travel and are truly secular in the real sense of the term but also strongly rooted to their faith.
The religious profile of the population has also undergone a metamorphosis. The internet revolution has opened their eyes to the brave new world and the phenomenal progress by their friends from other religious groups. This young generation of Muslim boys and girls are again, deeply attached to the basic tenets of their religion but are struggling to free themselves from the stranglehold of the archaic mullahs and moulvies.
Though this new generation did not speak their mind out, Modi was quick to read their minds and spoke in the language they understood. Speech after speech he promised to work to fulfil their dreams. “Together, we can” was his promise. The Nehruvian generation reposed their trust and faith in Nehru, but also sat back and relaxed, expecting the mai-baap sarkaar to look after them. But the 2014 generation was different. They expected the government to do its job and provide a corruption free atmosphere. The ten years of UPA was infamous for massive scams and policy paralysis. It collapsed under the weight of its own acts of omission and commission. The youth of the country voted for Modi, a dynamic leader, excellent communicator and above all a transparent person and the rest, as they say, is history.
Besides reading the mind of the voters correctly Modi had a few more advantages like personal integrity and credibility, dedicated and disciplined cadre and above all a totally discredited and fragmented opposition.
Akhilesh Yadav began his tenure on a strong note and promised to emerge as another regional leader like Nitish Kumar. But none other than his father and uncle began pulling the carpet from under his feet. By the time he could regain his balance great damage to the image of his party was done. The Yadav vote bank got divided and some were even ready to quit the party. As if this blow was not enough, Akhilesh self inflicted another stab in the form of coalition with the Congress and ensured his electoral disaster.
The 77-year-old Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, three time Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh said unhesitatingly, “Gathbandhan nahi hota to Samajwadi ki sarkar banti (had there been no coalition SP would have formed the government)”. He denied having supported the alliance or that he would have campaigned for it. In fact he publicly opposed the alliance. “Congress ko yahan koi pasand nahi karta (no one likes Congress in UP)”. The fact is that SP has defeated the Congress, BJP and the BSP in 2012 and formed the government.
After the total rout in UP, the first thing SP will do is to get rid of the ill-conceived coalition with the Congress. The Yadav clan may in all likelihood close in ranks and bury the hatchet. Congress vice president will not be allowed a pillion ride on their bicycle. Akhilesh Yadav is still the safe bet for Samajwadi Party. If they wish to survive as a political party and not disappear like the fabled Samajwad (Socialism), they should hold on to Akhilesh who in turn should clean up the party of anti-social and corrupt elements.
The Bahujan Samaj Party was expected to cut into BJP votes and garner Muslim votes to emerge as the winner but they got their script wrong from the beginning. Mayawati had no definite agenda to woo her voters thus making her irrelevant for the third time. In the ruthless political arena of Indian politics, no one who has lost three consecutive elections has survived for the next round.
The electoral victory for the Congress, albeit pyrrhic, came from Punjab where the party could project the Akali Dal (SAD) as a poor performer and root cause for the drug menace. Perception plays an important role in politics and the Akali-BJP coalition could not find an alternative narrative to be third time lucky. For the faction ridden Congress (Amrendra Singh actually threatened to quit and form a new party) which significantly, even during the 2014 washout, polled 33 per cent votes the troubles are just beginning as the CM candidate has Sidhu and half a dozen more breathing down his neck.
What is probably the height of inefficiency and callousness is the total sloppiness of the Congress leadership in dealing with the party’s victory in Goa and Manipur. While the party emerged as single largest, ironically no other party wanted to even touch the Congress with a barge poll.
2017 Assembly election results are very important pointers for 2019 election. In all likelihood, the BJP will manage to win Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh next year. Of the other two national parties, the CPM and CPI clubbed as Left is already relegated to the last page of history books. That leaves only the shrinking Congress still in the grip of Gandhi family, waiting to be presided over by Rahul Gandhi with abysmal track record. It is unlikely that any party will ever want to tie up with the Congress unless the party throws up a non-Gandhi parivar leader, very unlikely.
The Congress made a foolish move by becoming a junior partner to SP in UP. Like in Punjab, they could have gone alone and managed to get the same number of seats they got now. The Congress however, played a safe game and sensing total defeat, withdrew Priyanka Vadra from the campaign. The party strategists thought that it would be wise for her to start with victory at a future date failure in politics. This way they accepted not just total decimation but also the political end of Rahul Gandhi.
There will be many attempts to put together an anti-BJP/Modi coalition. But such a coalition will have no credibility or a central rallying point. Without a credible positive agenda such a coalition is not likely to appeal to the voters. None of the state level parties will accept Rahul Gandhi as their leader and transfer their vote bank to the Congress. The Congress party may also witness a split as it happened in the late sixties. A number of senior Congress leaders are uncomfortable with the leadership, or rather the lack of leadership, in the party. Those who served Smt. Indira Gandhi are either not alive or in the sunset of their life. The second rung of leadership that rose to prominence during the (pseudo) Gandhi era in the last decade and a half is totally disillusioned with 10, Janpath. Some of them are looking for an opening in the BJP and have at times openly praised Modi’s economic and foreign policy. No doubt, they are looking for a non-Gandhi (read Sonia-Rahul) leader either within the Congress or outside. A vertical split in the Congress, therefore, cannot be ruled out. There is a political vacuum in the opposition space vacated by the BJP. It is not likely to remain a void for long. The million rupee question (in new notes) is who the leader is?
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going full steam ahead with his mission of making India a super power through a series of social and economic policies which will empower the marginalised and raise their standards of living, energise the economy and add teeth to its competitiveness and devise and implement a security and strategic architecture that will establish India as first among equals in the comity of nations.
(The author is member of the BJP National Executive and former editor of Organiser English weekly).
By Seshadri Chari