While one cannot and should not grudge the BJP its resounding victory, the Party should not throw caution to the wind as nothing is ever certain in politics.
The script that was being written before the Assembly elections is now complete. Post the stunning, yes stunning, results it is clear that the BJP is on a high. And not without reason because it has a brand that no other Party has: Brand Modi. His party has marketed him well and in turn accrued dividends.
As Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has enough to show: his developmental schemes which have reached the poor; his pro-women initiatives; his government’s thrust on sports; the G-20 summit which involved major cities and was “people-centric”; the moon and sun missions as it were; and more importantly the Ram temple being thrown open to believers early next year.
Even for non-believers, Ayodhya would throw open opportunities for employment and be a tourist hub.
For aspirational Indians and the millennials, Modi is that one single factor that has helped bring India centre-stage on the world platform. Under his leadership, when he speaks, the world sits up and listens.
One cannot take away from the Prime Minister his vision and the fact that he willingly opts for a sixer rather than a one run at a time strategy, if one may use a cricket terminology.
A case in point is making G-20 a household name; making it a mega event by taking it to 60 cities all over India; and more importantly pushing for a permanent membership of the African Union and so on and so forth. Add to this, the gender empowerment initiatives and the list is kind of endless.
Of course, there is a flip side to all this: a negative that Modi critics never fail to flag. And that negative somehow cancels the bag of positives that the Modi government routinely propagates.
For starters, it is the erosion of institutions including the media wherein every independent voice is muzzled.
Add to this, the general atmosphere of fear that prevails all around: the perception being that not many can breathe easy and those who do speak their mind, are silenced. There are umpteen examples of cases being slapped against those who have tried to show a mirror to the Government or slammed the Prime Minister as dictatorial. The sum total: a Modi critic is no friend and thus has no place in the current scheme of things.
While on the last, there is enough evidence to suggest that even ministers within the Government are no more than minions and expected to toe the dotted line. Fall out of step and you have fallen from grace as it were.
What however surpasses all this is the communal divide that has visibly gripped the nation: the Muslims are “undeclared outsiders” and the BJP, it seems, would rather that they leave than stay in India which is, by an unwritten code, fast turning into Bharat or Hindustan.
In fact, on Bharat, there is a forward movement with G-20 invites showcasing the country’s new nomenclature as Bharat instead of India.
To refresh memory, Narendra Modi was described as Prime Minister of Bharat instead of Prime Minister of India, which has, so far, been the norm. That the move died a sudden death is another matter. Probably it had served its political purpose given that many saw it as a panic reaction to the Opposition calling itself I.N.D.I.A: a group of 28 parties to take on the BJP in 2024.
This brings us to the recently concluded Assembly elections wherein the alliance came across as a divided house throwing to the winds the well-crafted strategy of posing a serious challenge to Prime Minister Modi and his government in 2024.
That it came to a naught is another matter.
It is no secret that the one to spoil the broth was none other than the Congress itself. The grand old Party refused to accommodate its allies in the crucial Hindi belt.
The rancour between Samajwadi and the Congress Party was out in the open when the Congress refused to give it the half a dozen seats it had sought. To add insult to injury, it was Congress leader Kamal Nath who kind of sounded abusive while referring to SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav: “Arey bhai, chodo Akhilesh vakilesh”.
The inference: Akhilesh not a factor and not worth considering.
Nath was responding to Yadav’s Congress-betrayal remark wherein Yadav had said that he was unaware of the fact that the alliance partners were not fighting together at the state level.
Nitish Kumar too was right when he said that the Congress seemed more interested in the assembly polls than the general elections in 2024.
There was heartburn in Telangana too, where Congress grudgingly and reluctantly gave only one seat to the CPI and that too at the last minute. As for the CPI (M), the Congress did not agree to accommodate its two-seat demand.
There is a view, however minor, about the alliance not fighting elections together being a kind of a face-saver on grounds that had the alliance lost it would have adversely impacted and perhaps jeopardized its chances in 2024. But this is akin to the “grapes are sour” story.
Fast forward to 2024 and there are several possibilities on the anvil.
The BJP is upbeat given that the Assembly election results have given it a score that has, perhaps, surpassed even its own in-house calculations.
While it had an edge in two states, for it to practically sweep the north by bagging all three is a windfall. Telangana and Mizoram were never on its radar.
This victory has, for the BJP, reiterated the 2024 is ours spiel.
It has also strengthened the belief that the Modi charisma works as nothing else.
Apart from giving the saffron party an edge over others, the dismal performance of the Congress party and cracks in the grand alliance are enough reasons for the BJP to feel smug.
However, the rhetoric that 2024 is a foregone conclusion, let us talk about 2029 does have its limitations.
For one, nothing is ever certain in politics. When Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in with an impressive mandate, everyone thought he was in for a long haul. But his tenure was marred by the Bofors scandal which resulted in the Congress losing power. So the man who had created electoral history by helping his Party win 414 Lok Sabha seats could not last beyond one term as Prime Minister.
Therefore while one cannot and should not grudge the BJP its resounding victory and hail Modi moment, the Party should not throw caution to the wind.