Whatever may be the outcome of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, one person who has created nationwide popularity and awareness for himself is Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Clearly no other political leader at the moment is occupying so much of space in print and electronic media apart from social media sites on a daily basis as he has been doing for some time.He has already embarked upon an agenda which threatens to divide the country on communal lines.
The Congress party leaders are seeing his quips and quotes with a huge amount of suspicion and abhorrence while Modi is trying to play a different kind game for himself and the BJP. While the Congress has been wearing Muslim appeasement on its sleeve, Modi is targetting the other 70 percent Hindu population of the country by invoking Hindu nationalism.
Later on, he would add it up with his OBC card as he is a Ghanchy ( teli) from Gujarat and would invoke that part to gobble up a big chunk of OBC votes as well.
He and his strategists have firmly fixed their eyes on the target with a view that there is nothing beyond the 2014 elections. So every alliance broken, every leader brushed aside and every political leader who criticises is meant to be set aside as the Gujarat Chief Minister’s campaign machinery rolls on towards the 2014 polls.
However, there are a few questions which Modi machine is still labouring to find credible answers.
1) It was Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Samajwadi Party which stopped BJP in its track both in 2004 and 2009 polls. Would Modi team led by Amit Shah be third time lucky for BJP in Uttar Pradesh in 2014 and how?
2) Modi media managers have painted the major part of the country saffron through their aggressive campaign at various levels to whip up that kind of frenzy and mass hysteria. Would Modi be able to sustain and continue that kind of trailblazing talisman till the last ballot is polled in 2014?
3) Would the people of India forget and forgive him for what happened in Gujarat in 2002 and give him the same kind of respect and adulation that they gave to Indira Gandhi or Vajpayee ?
On the face of it, BJP’s vote share has declined over the last three elections to 18.8 percent, and though the party can hope for 18 to 20 percent of the vote share to get to 180 seats, a more practical assumption would be that Modi needs to raise the party’s vote share by 5 to 6 percentage points. In other words, Modi would have to ensure at least 25 to 30 million votes in his name assuming an electorate of 800 million votes in the 2014 polls.
Such kind of vote swing and slide towards a particular party has happened only three times in the history of Indian elections. It was in 1984 for the first time after the tragic assassination of India Gandhi that the Congress got over 400 seats. It was in 1991 that BJP got a huge surge in its vote share over the Ayodhya temple issue and in 1998 again for the BJP, because of allies who delivered the numbers.
There is no doubt that the image of UPA II got taken a terrible beating because of a variety of reasons.There is a strong anti-incumbency wave among the electorate against the Congress and the UPA. Yet is would be a million question if 2014 LS polls would it be one that would result in 25 million votes going in Modi’s favour?
For that kind of gain, the BJP needs a leader who could be as popular from Kashmir to Kanyakumari as from Godhra to Guwahati. That kind of swing in favour of BJP is quite unlikely given the Gujarat Chief Minister’s personality cult is one that is still resonates only with urban voters only.
Modi has always tried to impress upon the electorate through his Gujarat “development model”. How much would that model would work in states like Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and a Bihar rural voter is still a hypothesis.
Even if Modi’s spin Doctors try that now, it would be just next to impossible to turn rural constituencies around the country in a matter of a few months.
Even, consolidating urban voters at pan- India level would be a Herculean task because there is no yardstick to judge if they share the same amount of passion for Modi in Bhopal, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar or Kolkata as they do in Ahmedabad or Gandhi Nagar.
Southern part of India which accounts for 90 Lok Sabha seats, is yet another challenge for the BJP even now because it hardly has any presence except in Karnataka where it got a terrible drubbing at the hands of Congress in recent Assembly polls.
More than that, it is the promotion of personality cult that the people of India have not liked on many occasions. Those leaders with moderate views and a sense of magnanimity and tolerance have been adored by the masses. That is how Vajpayee became the darling of voters in 2004. But Modi is a different personality, not easily amenable to democratic moderation.
In this content, former Media Advisor to Prime minister, Harish Khare makes a valid point saying: “The Gujarat Chief Minister may seek to harness the strong anti-incumbency but warns that the drowning voices of dissent against anything anti-Modi doesn’t augur well for the democracy that is India.”
Above all, where would the BJP get enough alliance partners to create that magic number to stake claim to form the government? As of now, only SAD and Shiv Sena seem to be aligned with it. And that would finally make the difference.