Battle cry

by September 11, 2018 0 comments

BJPBJP national executive lays out the contours for the party’s re-election bid, but…

There were no major surprises, and none were expected, at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national executive meet in New Delhi over the weekend. And that should worry the party a wee bit, at least. For, there is a truism in Indian electoral politics that emotional issues — a catch-all phrase for the perception of the narrative political parties go the hustings with — win crucial polls not governance issues. There is a reason for that. Broadly, the problems the country faces are so gargantuan in magnitude that however good the governance performance of a ruling party may or may not be, there will always be millions whose lives have not been touched in a substantive way by the Government. This is a structural issue for most if not all post-colonial states and especially those of immense scale such as India. It is against this backdrop that the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah whose term was extended till the 2019 Lok Sabha poll have laid out the roadmap for the party’s campaign for re-election.

First up, the BJP plans has quite audaciously but rightly given this is a constituency it has nurtured for decades now, made a concerted effort to put governance-development issues centre-stage. The 50 years of Congress versus five years of BJP campaign in terms of development parameters ranging from infrastructure building to job creation and robust economic growth in the last few quarters, the highlighting of naamdaar as opposed to kaamdaar, an emphasis on how silo-based governance models which led to policy paralysis have been replaced by an integrated, solutions-based administrative architecture and the showcasing of its clean record in terms of no corruption scandals or scams in the upper echelons at the governmental level especially when compared to the UPA’s second term are all part of this narrative. But while these issues have some resonance, especially among the party faithful and the educated classes, as it were, it is doubtful if they will make for an electoral wave. Especially, because the Opposition has enough ammunition to counter this discourse with its counter-narrative from an ‘unthinking’ demonetisation, a ‘poorly prepped; GST roll-out, alleged graft in the Rafale aircraft deal and the mismatch between promise and delivery. The BJP is betting on the fact that on the deal and GST in particular, with Opposition charges not really adding up in the case of the former and the crying necessity of the latter for the India economy going forward, will find no traction. Party activists have been exhorted to take the party’s message to the people but the cadre does need a ‘hook’ with which to connect with the people. In fact, the BJP seems to have missed a trick in not directing all its State Governments to reduce taxes on fuel following Rajasthan’s example which would have exposed other State Governments while simultaneously taking the sting out of the Opposition campaign. The bottom line for now, however, is Modi’s popularity ratings at the national level remain high even in States where the party is likely to suffer anti-incumbency and the ‘emotive issues’ that would enthuse the cadre are there and thereabouts at the moment without being over-aggressively pushed, though that may change as the poll campaign kicks off in earnest. The BJP will need both Modi’s sway and these ‘connect’ issues to be in full play in consonance with their governance-development agenda to decisively best an Opposition mahagathbandhan which, even if its index of unity is only moderate, could pose a significant challenge to its effort to get re-elected.

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.