BJP was destined to win the 2014 electoral battle as people wanted a change from the clutches of Gandhi – Nehru clan political rule of over 50 years and they visualized in Narendra Modi, the lone savior who could bring about a transformation the way politics plays out in the country. But the upcoming 2019 electoral Battle is not going to be an easy cakewalk for BJP and Narendra Modi by any figments of imaginations. The reason being, people have now tasted 4 years of Modi’s rule and the halo that was around him during the last elections has somehow diminished if not extinguished.
Electoral battle of 2019 is going to be a Dharmayuddha, in where every accountable citizen in the country needs to decide which side they are in and ensure the voter turnout breaks all the records and reaches a record 90 per cent margin. Anyone who exercises Nota does not hold the right to crib about the states of affairs in the country till 2024. There are majorly 2 players at stake who are going to decide the course of the country for next 5 years, NDA and UPA.
Fighting electoral battle on developmental planks like PM Awas Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana, Ayushman Bharat program, Swachh Bharat, Fasal Bima Yojana etc is what makes the party portray itself as the chief architects of change in the way politics is run in the country. Having said so, the age-old caste-based politics system, which is ingrained and deep-rooted in the society will require about 3 terms of NDA’s rule to be completely eradicated. Granting of tickets to candidates on the basis of caste demographics in the region, appeasing castes and influential caste leaders does remain a populist measure in the political ecosystem.Steered by the able guidance and leadership of the PM Narendra Modi and BJP’s Party President Amit Shah, NDA has successfully made a mark in the last 4 years of their rule. Whereas some of their steps for improving the economy like GST and Demonetization remain highly debatable, but no one can argue on the fact that at least they had the courage and intention to take hard steps to bring about a positive transformation in the country.
NDA has also been criticized for being hardcore Hindutva centric and cornering the minorities, Muslims in particular. This fact remains true to certain extent, with recent steps like changing the age-old names of popular cities, banning of slaughter houses, strong voices for Ram Mandir in Ayodhya etc, but one can always argue the fact that had the previous Governments done enough for them. What best can describe NDA’s inaction in this regard is, it hasn’t done enough to change the status quo without taking any regressive measures against them. Whereas steps like banning of ‘triple talaq’ have been appreciated across many quarters but the fact remains that the minorities are still facing difficulties in their basic livelihood. An example to support the claim – Its really difficult for a Muslim family to find them an abode as most of the landlords are Hindus and they do not prefer renting out to Muslims.
The major positive change that has come across the country during the NDA’s rule has been the rising of the Nationalist Sentiment, which now runs through the veins of every proud individual of the country. The Army has been empowered in decision-making, weaponry has been bolstered through Rafael Deal with France and missile defense systems deal with Russia, anti-national elements ‘Urban Naxal’ have been dealt with severely and the icing on the cake has been Surgical Strike against our neighbor. All this along with PM’s foreign trips to improve relationships with countries like US, Israel, UK, Russia, Middle East, Iran etc has powered India to be a major force to reckon with in the International community. While the menace of Naxalism still remains in about 90 districts (drop from 126 during UPA rule), the North East has remained fairly peaceful and Kashmir has witnessed a drop-in violence, thanks to the free hand given to the Army. Long due reverence has been paid to Nationalist leaders like Netaji and Sardar Vallavbhai Patel during the last 4 years. Statue of unity respecting Sardar Vallavbhai Patel has been set up at Vadodara to recognize the contribution of our former Home Minister in uniting the princely states and holding the country together during partition.
Coming to possible alliances for the upcoming elections, BJP is expected to fight the battle as a lone warrior with able support from allies like Nitish Kumar’s JDU, SAD and a few smaller parties. BJP cannot afford to sideline its oldest ally Shiv Sena, despite its love hate relationship with them. Shiv Sena has quite been vocal in recent times against the Central leadership but ignoring them can result in party’s tally taking a hit in Maharashtra which it cannot afford. The substantial losses in Hindi heartlands especially in Rajasthan can be countered with if party performs well in the East and North East. Potential post poll alliances with presumably neutral opponents like BJD, TRS, AIADMK and YSR Congress across Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra can power the party to power incase it falls short of the absolute majority. BSP is also believed to be inkling towards the NDA side due to its recent stance of non-aligning with INC in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Haryana state elections.
The biggest blemish that INC, India’s oldest political party, is going to fight the elections is its inability to end the dynastic rule of Gandhi’s and Nehru’s. At the same time widespread allegations of corruption and scams have marred all the good work done by the previous UPA Governments.The opposition today rightly perceives Modi as their common threat and in their ambition to thwart the Tallest Leader in India’s political history over the recent years, they are joining hands leaving aside their differences in political ideology. The opposition has failed to put up a credible face for Prime Ministerial candidate with Rahul Gandhi being perceived as the star campaigner for the other side. It is widely believed in the party quarters itself that The Mother’s love for her son has brought about downfall to the party which ruled the Country for over 50 years.
Mahagathbandhan if it does happen will be perceived as a ‘Khichdi alliance’ with amalgamation of regional stalwarts like Chandrababu Naidu, Mamata Banerjee, MK Stalin, Sharad Pawar, Akhilesh Yadav, Deve Gowda, Arvind Kejriwal who are all believed to be PM aspirants. If UPA does manage to pull the show with alliances of parties like SP, TMC, DMK, NCP, TDP, Left, JKNC, JDS, AAP it will be interesting to see if they will be successful in providing a stable Government. While providing a stable Government seems to be a secondary objective of the opposition for the time being, their primary objective remains halting the winning juggernaut of Modi-Amit Shah duo by fighting the elections unilaterally under a common umbrella.
The recent state elections of Karnataka and by-poll results in various States have been encouraging for UPA and has given them a shot in arm for the need to have unified opposition for the upcoming Central Elections. In their hatred towards PM Modi in particular the opposition leaders often tend to cross the line with derogatory remarks against the PM. These arrogant leaders need to be tamed sooner or latter before the election season. The UPA cannot afford to put forward a single wrong step if it aspires to give NDA a tough fight, especially with their age-old mantra of Secularism not drawing much audience in recent times. With advent of JIO and higher internet penetration rates, the public awareness of political matters has significantly increased and they are not getting swayed away by divisive and caste-based politics anymore. The good thing that INC has managed to do in recent times, is expanding its internet and media presence which further supplemented by constant vocal attacks through its able spokespersons, on issues like rising prices of oil and petrol, Demonetization, Rafael deal. This has led to the ruling party being kept on its toes despite a credible opposition face.
With this background, 2019 elections can be safely termed as the next Mahabharata in the annals of the country’s political history. The country has never witnessed such an intense political battle that is heating up for showdown. Managing a diverse country like ours, requires strong leadership and a stable Government.So, it becomes highly imperative for the accountable citizens of the country to decide which side are you in – The Pandavas or The Kauravas. One cannot simple decide to remain neutral fence sitter and watch the show from sidelines. While I leave it upon the wise judgement of the readers to decide who are the Pandavas and who are the Kauravas in this political showdown.