Modi verses Who in 2019?
Now that the Karnataka political drama is over, and the opposition led by the Congress party is in the saddle, the pyrrhic victory has to some extent blocked the blooming of the lotus in Southern India. How ever the aftermath has a bitterness and bad taste that will linger for days to come.
Senior Congress leaders like Ashok Gehlot and Gulam Nabi Azad played a decisive role with utmost precautions and did some damage control in saving the lost image of Rahul Gandhi as the Congress party president. All the elections strategies of Rahul Gandhi have failed in Karnataka, despite his offering worship in Lingayat Mutts and meeting Hindu monks. Rahul tried his best in exposing the ill skills of Narendra Modi, and lauded how as PM he failed to fulfill the election manifestos of 2014 Lok Sabha polls. But all this was in vain, as it just did not allure the voters. The BJP failed to win a few more seats for getting the magic numbers, even though it fared well in the coastal areas and many other Congress strongholds.
With the prospects of a united opposition, the BJP has tough tasks ahead. The entire nationaloust Modi campaigners descended upon Bengaluru for the swearing-in ceremony of the JDS-Congress combine. The leaders of the political forces like BSP, SP, RJD and RLD were seen with smiling faces. Arvind Kejriwal, after losing Punjab, is now in search of a safe haven and has no scruples in bedding with the corrupt leaders. Mamta Banerjee too spoke of saving democracy, even though her failures in handling political violence in the recent local body lay exposed. Voters in their respective states have witnessed the neck deep corrupt rule of the Congress, RJD and BSP.
The Indian voters have tested the four years of good governance of Narendra Modi, his development plank and top-notch diplomacy. If one interprets the response of the Indian electorate towards a roaring Narendra Modi, then it is nigh impossible to find a leader of his stature in the present scenario who can lead the nation in 2019. After being sworn-in as the national president of the Congress, this was Rahul Gandhi’s first litmus test where he could have proved his ability before the party cadres and the nation. Being a youth, Rahul badly failed to attract the youth of our nation, unlike his father Rajiv Gandhi. Before visiting temples to attract Hindu votes, Rahul Gandhi had visited Dalit families, but even this did not improve the prospects of the party at the hustings.
Rahul Gandhi should realise that the party’s political victory in Karnataka did not come as a result of electoral victory, but of course, the timely strategy of the Congress which could throw the BJP out of power race. The Congress party will have to continue its onslaught of roping in regional parties, compromising its election prospects in the coming elections. Existing issues will have to be kept alive, new ones discovered.
With the subsequent defeats, the Congress has been at its abysmal level. It knows that as a single standalone party, it just cannot fight elections on a one-to-one stand with the BJP. Punjab and Puducherry are too small states which will provide little respite in the Lok Sabha elections of 2019.
However, the galaxy of leaders who were apparently united at Bengaluru will have their impact on the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Gujarat. But at the same, time the absence ofthe BJD, TRS, DMK and INLD also raises a big question mark on a united front against the BJP.
In Odisha, Naveen Pattnaik has been vocal enough in his stant of maintaining an equidistance from both the Congress and the BJP. In Tamil Nadu, the DMK has a track record of allying with both the NDA and the UPA, so it may choose its partner after the Lok Sabha polls. In the forthcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Congress will have a direct fight with the BJP. If the BJP brings about a sizeable electoral success in these states, then it will be very difficult for the Congress to face the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. As of now, the Congress had given a tough fight to the BJP in Gujarat and it looks like the same political situation may happen in the Rajasthan assembly elections. But the BJP has better prospects in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
While visiting different states, I have asked cross sections of people about the leadership quotient of Narendra Modi. The general reply is that most of the people prefer to support Modi as Prime Minister. In the states, they may vote for other parties, but for Lok Sabha the common man has full faith on the towering personality of Narendra Modi. Among all the leaders from different political parties, Modi is the best choice to lead the nation. The NDA government under Modi has completed it four years in office now, its senior leaders have travelled the length and breadth of our country to laud the performance report of the union government. The BJP sources say at the end of four years in office they are not at all scared about the galaxy of leaders gathered in Bengaluru. BJP feels that 2019 election contest would be between the lion and the rats. Is Rahul Gandhi listening ?
By Deepak Kumar Rath