True. There is no Modi wave for the Parliamentary election to be held in April-May 2019.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is claimed to be the largest political party in the world, has started losing major states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhatisgarh and Punjab to Congress and is unable to gain any among the southern Indian states despite being in power at the Centre since last more than four years. Out of 31 Legislative Assemblies in India, the BJP has majority in just 10 and total number of the Chief Ministers including some borrowed from either Congress, AGP or other regional parties is 12 out of 31. The NDA-led Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was on the peak of popularity riding on the Modi wave to grab power from a decade long UPA-led Dr. Manmohan Singh government in May 2014. Naturally, the popularity graph has gone down due to the unfulfilled promises made by him during the Parliamentary election campaign. Even some of the major coalition partners have parted company with BJP. On the other side the opposition parties are all set for Congress-led Mahagathbandhan and/or TRS-led Federal Front to keep Modi and his BJP out of power. Despite all this the bagpiper is all set to take oath as PM again in May 2019 even with 180 seats, 100 less than the last election!
PM Modi has fired first salvo on the new year day itself by giving a 95 minute long interview to Smita Prakash, the Editor of ANI, covering almost all the issues which are to crop up in the next election.He makes entire media discussing and debating his interview for days to come. Modi is a master strategist who sets agenda even for the main opposition parties including the 134 year old Congress headed by the Cambridge-trained Rahul Gandhi. Even the founder of Modi’s mother organization, RSS, Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar and the founder of the Jan Sangh, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee were products of the same Congress of Dadabhai Naoroji, Lokmanya Tilak, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel and Maulana Azad. While enrolling the stalwarts of Congress in his party, the Chanakya turned Chandragupta Modi talks about Congress-Mukta Bharat! Everything is fair in his political game so long as it can fetch power at the Centre or in various states. He is master of all seasons. Modi could enroll even the Presidents of various State Congress Committee including Rita Bahuguna Joshi (UP) and Kunvarji Bavaliya (Gujarat) making them ministers and could continue with his slogan of Congress-Mukt Bharat.
Modi has an army of Bhaktas and he himself is God for them since they are convince that he, and only he, can bring them victory. They would follow his dictates without questioning. Modi does not like anybody questioning his authority ever since he was a Pracharak with RSS or the Organising Secretary with Gujarat BJP. Even the civil servants, IAS as well as IPS, are inclined to follow what he desires. He acts as Big Brother. This has invited trouble after four years of his premiership with his Cabinet colleagues and coalition partners. Barring Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister and the blue-eyed boy of RSS who hails from Nagpur, hardly anybody dares to cross swords with him. Shiv Sena, an old coalition partner since last so many decades has being playing major opposition role challenging PM Modi using Rahul Gandhi’s language “Chowkidar Chor Hai” while being in the government in Maharashtra and at Centre too. Some of the coalition partners have preferred to desert him including TDP of N. Chandrababu Naidu and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Upendra Kushwaha. Others like Shiv Sena, Apana Dal and Shiromani Akali Dal express displeasure while being in the coalition and threatening to desert or contesting the election independently. Lok Janshakti Party Supremo Ram Vilas Paswan, having record of being in any ministry whether one is headed by Congress or BJP, JD or JD (S), has bargained seats in NDA coalition in Bihar but none can predict when this weather politician will change his mind.
No doubt, PM Modi is under pressure from his own party, his mother organization and his coalition partners. But he has the capability of turning the table. Modi is quite capable of showing new dreams to his voters especially the younger lot and making then forget what the manifesto 2014 contained. Emotional issues like Ram Mandir and Shabarimala and ever handy Pakistan would be raised. Modi continues to be Vikas Purush but his lieutenants would take up the responsibility of other religious and emotional issues in the election. He can dynamite the opposition unity by attracting some or using the Tota, the Chief Justice of India R. M. Lodha coined the word for CBI, and other agencies to make some come round. He has not only BJP cadres at his command, even the Sangh Parivar front organizations are at his disposal. Now since most of the Sangh Parivar organizations including Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, ABVP etc. are headed by his confidents, they would dance to his tune.
In the last Parliamentary election the BJP could win 282 seats out of 543 Lok Sabha seats and the Congress was all time low i.e. 44. Of course, in Rajya Sabha the Congress lead opposition continued to be in majority and in the days to come the Congress would improve its tally since it won some states. The internal assessment of BJP and Sangh Parivar is that it would lose nearly 100 seats and would be difficult to improve the tally. Hence, PM Modi and BJP President Amit Shah are focusing on Odisha and West Bengal. They are confident of gain from the North-Eastern states but unable to improve performance in the southern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The major worry
for BJP continues to be on the front of farmers, demonetization and reservation movements. Even the youth and jobless people are agitated since the Modi government could not fulfill the election promises. The Congress has become aggressive on bank loans for the industrial and corporate houses waived by the NDA government and its preaching on farmers debts. Not much time is left for PM Modi to reverse downward trend in the popularity graph, but even the opposition parties do swear that Modi may do something and mesmerize the voters to elect his party to rule again till 2024. The opposition parties await some kind of miracle to take place to keep Modi away from the South Block. Who can be his replacement they never confidently say but not at least Rahulbaba, who himself denies his name being floated. We are confident that there is no alternative to Narendra Modi at least for 2019 but two names are being mentioned little seriously. They are of Sharad Pawar and Nitin Gadkari. None was too sure when Morarji Desai, H. D. Deve Gowda, I.K.Gujaral or Dr. Manmohan Singh became the PM of India. Deve Gowda himself admitted recently that he was an “Accidental Prime Minister” but not at least Dr. Manmohan Singh who rule over the great country for a decade!
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(The writer is a Socio-political Historian. E-mail: [email protected] )