Of the coming up of an alliance of all opposition parties ahead of next year general elections, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party has decided to go all out to project itself as a party, which works for the welfare of the poor people of India, trying to shed an image that it is an urban and middle-class political outfit and has failed to make inroads in the country’s hinterland.
The worry was evident from the political resolution that the National Executive of ruling party passed in its two-day meeting held last week in the national capital. The deliberations underlined the party’s continued efforts to come out of the general perception that it is a political outfit that is confined to the urban middle class and has no support base among the rural dalits, tribals and other poor sections of the society.
In a bid to reach out to the rural poor and deprived sections, the ruling party has decided to formulate a strategy highlighting its government’s economic and social welfare policies vis-a-vis poor and at the same time launch a fierce attack on the idea of the grand opposition alliance describing it as an alliance having no leader and with no clear policies and is driven by ‘ill-intent’.
The ruling party seems to have a two-pronged strategy for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Firstly, it believes that the opposition among its ranks has no leader who could even stand in comparison to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and secondly, it is of the firm view that projecting an option of stable government for the next term, places the ruling alliance ahead of a rag-tag opposition alliance that if come to power could only provide an unstable government. Precisely, for that reason the BJP leaders during television debates have been asking as to who is the alternative to Modi in the country, thereby trying to push the electorates towards another Presidential-style general election.
“The Opposition is incapable of challenging the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections because it’s fighting on lies and not issues. Our problem is that those who were failures while in government are also failures in the Opposition. I don’t see a challenge anywhere (in the 2019 elections). We are ready to fight on policies but we don’t know how to fight on lies,” Prime Minister Modi told the National Executive meeting.
The content of the political resolution deliberated upon and passed subsequently at the meeting of the BJP’s National Executive is full of praise of government ‘s economic and other policies that claims to have fulfilled all dreams Prime Minister Modi showed to the people of India four years back during his previous election campaign. The resolution has also gone to the extent of staking an unbelievable claim that China’s growth rate was far behind India.
“Demonetisation, GST, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code – IBC etc are such measures that set India’s economic basics right while bringing economic discipline and rule of law in the governance. As a result, after a brief slowdown, the Indian economy is rising fast. We are the fastest growing major economy in the world today with 7.5 percent GDP growth rate as projected by the IMF. With 6.6 percent growth rate China is well behind us.IMF has also projected a further improvement in India’s growth as a result of implementation of several structural reform measures to be more than 8 percent growth in the medium term. The confidence in the Indian economy has increased on account of policy measures taken up by the government, as can be seen from many indicators,” the political resolution pointed out.
The major issues that were taken up for discussion at the meeting included upcoming assembly elections in the three BJP-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. The party is in power in MP and Chhattisgarh for last three consecutive terms. Two more political issues of contention that came up for discussion in the meeting were coming together of SP and BSP in Uttar Pradesh and implications of new SC/ST act that has caused ripples among the upper class in the country particularly in the northern parts and has the potential of damaging party’s electoral prospects among upper castes that has been traditional suporters of the BJP.
It seems both the Prime Minister Modi and the BJP president Amit Shah failed to convince participants on the contentious issue of SC/ST act. They made no promise about diluting the act. The party appears to be not prepared to formulate any official stand on the issue and has left it for the court to interpret and give relief to the upper castes. Surprisingly the act which has become a hot topic for discussion among the people in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other northern election-bound states, has failed to find a place in the political resolution.
Similarly, the party’s apex decision-making body also failed to stitch up any concrete strategy to counter possible alliance between Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav despite knowing well that such an alliance if comes up has the potential of bringing BJP tally dawn in the next Lok Sabha elections from current 73 politically sensitive state of Uttar Pradesh. Instead of taking stock of such a situation that has the far reaching political implications for the BJP, the party leadership looks confident of repeating the performance of 2014 in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country.
“The 2019 polls will be fought on the basis of PM Modi’s achievements and the strength of our organisation. In 2019 elections, we’ll easily win the 19 states where it’s our governments and we’re placed second in states like West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana. Anti-incumbency always benefits those who are in second place. We’ll perform well in southern region of the country,” said Shah, the party president.
The political and economic resolutions passed at the meeting have made it clear that the BJP would be fighting next general elections only on the strength and ‘achievements’ of Prime Minister Modi and his government. The one-way debate that took place has once again established the supremacy of Modi and Shah over the party and the government. The senior party leaders who had worked out electoral strategies many times in the past and steered clear the party to the victory in many electoral battles had now been completely sidelined. They have not been assigned any job. Both Shah and Modi are so confident of staging a come-back in the elections-bound states later this year and in the Lok Sabha mid next year that they have given new twist to the factor of anti-incumbency arguing that Modi has overcome the incumbency factor.
“Politically, after 4 years, the Prime Minister defies conventional political wisdom about incumbency by recording 70 percent plus popularity ratings. No other Indian leader comes anywhere close to him. Since 2014, we have won elections in 15 states and lost in 6. We are in power in 20 Indian states today while the opposition controls 10; Congress has its governments in 3 out of them. The BJP currently rules 60 percent of India besides central government,” the political resolution marked.
The opposition parties are terribly shaken by the immense goodwill and popularity of our government based on its sheer good work and people-friendly policies. In their desperation for power the opposition parties are resorting to various tactics. They neither have a leader who can match PM Modi in stature nor a program. Their singular objective is ‘Stop Modi’. They want his vision for New India to be destroyed by any means, the resolution said
The meeting of the top body of the party also gave a vision-2022 call for building new India. The clarion call has been given among the opposition charges against Prime Minister Modi that he has failed to even fulfil one of the tall promises he made. Like in 2014, the political resolution also mention of joblessness, poverty, homelessness and diseases. It is a clear admission of the fact that the government has failed to deliver on the key sectors that Indian society continues to confront.
“The Prime Minister has given a call to the entire nation for building a New India by 2022, when India completes 75 years of its Independence – a New India free of homelessness, joblessness, poverty and disease; A New India that is united, prosperous, confident and happy. The National Executive resolves to achieve it, under his leadership, by actively mobilising the support of 130 crore Indians.>