12/18/2018 3:45:04 PM
|written By : Team India Se|
Three strikes but not out. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still the favourite to win the 2019 general election though his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost the three Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh to the opposition Congress led by Rahul Gandhi in recent assembly elections. No politician can match Modi but there is anger on the ground and his government is to blame, writes Sankarshan Thakur, roving editor of the Telegraph.
Modi is “a consummate and unsentimental power creature like no other”, unmatched by any other politician when it comes to “reach, resources, energy, focus, impact”, asserts Thakur. But he recalls that the previous BJP prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a “Leviathan”, too, who unexpectedly lost the 2004 general election to the Congress and its allies. The Congress’ Manmohan Singh then became prime minister and remained in office till 2014 when the BJP returned to power under Modi.
Modi and his lieutenant, the BJP president Amit Shah, have suffered reverses earlier in Delhi, Bihar, Punjab and Karnataka since returning to power. But that cannot compare with the loss of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. These used to be the BJP’s core ground, the Hindu cow belt, says Thakur.
Significantly, he blames the Modi government for the loss of the Hindi heartland states. There is rural, agrarian anger for which the Modi government in Delhi is more to blame than the state governments, he says. Seventy per cent or more of the people in the states that the BJP lost live in villages and depend on land, and if they continue to vote against it, the BJP stands to lose as many 44 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, he adds. The BJP won 282 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 general election.
Modi’s vote-getting power has taken a beating in the assembly elections. “The prime minister barnstormed the battleground states aggressively and provocatively, but could not swing it,” observes Thakur.
“He no longer brags about demonetisation or GST, aware that the widespread verdict on both is palpably negative… Unemployment is soaring, purses across the nation are pinching. Key institutions he has turned to a shambles over the course of his reign — Supreme Court judges found themselves compelled to call an unprecedented press meet and raise alarm over executive interference, the Reserve Bank lies wracked, the CBI is controversially riven and headless, the Central Information Commission has complained of manipulation,” writes Thakur.
Even the Hindu card Modi played failed. “He commandeered the VHP-Bajrang Dal and UP chief minister ‘Yogi’ Ajay Singh Bisht “Adityanath” to wage battle for him.” But the BJP lost wherever the “yogi” went, says Thakur.
“If it at all is an aid to perspective,” he adds, “India’s first cow welfare minister, Otaram Devasi, lost to an independent Congress rebel from Sirohi district in Rajasthan.”
Quo Vadis, Modi? Unvanquished still, but omnipotent? No.