Dance of Democracy
The stance which BJP took was playing a test cricket match. The approach of Congress is that a T20. I think BJP understood that personification is important to win this elections to combat with Gandhi’s. If opinion polls are to be believed then NDA will get close to 250 seats with UPA getting 100 and balance with the regional parties. While the Congress has been the most outspoken in its opposition to such electoral surveys, Mulayam’s SP, Mayawati’s BSP, and Karunanidhi’s DMK are also said to be anti-opinion polls.
However, the Indian electorate, as it has shown time and again, is a notoriously unpredictable entity, apt to confound any and all forecasts regarding the choices it might make, and the reasons for those choices. Time after time, Indian voters have baffled psephologists and crystal-ball gazers who have tried to predict their behaviour. Who’ll win? The UPA? The NDA? The Third Front? Modi? Rahul?
Ever since he was named as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Modi’s election campaign has been a one-man show. Am sure Rajnath had to pull a lot of strings and take the risk of sidelining Advani, Sushma, et all. Many commentators have noted that the poll publicity magnifies Modi image at the expense of that of the party; voters have, and are, being urged to vote not so much for the lotus symbol but for the Gujarat CM. Indeed, the very fact that several senior party members have felt the need specifically to deny that there is any ‘Modi wave’ but instead there is a general groundswell of support for the BJP as a whole, only buttresses the Modi-first perception by admitting that there is a Brand NaMo whose existence requires denial. BJP prepared for a test match in selection of candidates, funding them, tying up with alliances, etc…but time and again was caught napping at the onslaught of Congress. I personally regard Congress as the most manipulative party and one who knows the pulse of India.
Perhaps Congress knew that there is no way it will come back to power on their own. They preserved their finances and spent only on projecting Rahul. Then came the T20 match with back end incentives to Togadia et all and kindling the dissatisfaction of the sidelined NDA leaders. Launching Priyanka to hit some sixes. A vast majority of Indians do not tune to Times Now or NDTV. The other masterstroke was ensuring Kejriwal does those mistakes he should not have done like contesting from Varanasi and earlier resigning from power in Delhi. The game played by Congress is tactical. One will see more tactics once they are in opposition and they will play the communal card to the full then for destabilising the government. They planned for a T20 all along in their campaign. That included utilising NCP strong man for creating rift within Shiv Sena and having a low voter turnout in Mumbai.
In this age of Selfies, the tone and tenor of Modi’s campaign from its inception has had overtones of the individualism that marks the US presidential polls, in which votes are cast for a single person and not, as in the Indian case, for a government, perhaps composed of several parties, which will then choose a Prime Minister who will be the ‘first among equals’. Modi’s campaign has made it clear that, if he should succeed in becoming PM, he will be the first among unequals, having the mandate of an electorate that has voted for him and not for his party or his fellow party members in their test match. It has frequently been noted that Modi’s famous — or infamous, depending on your point of view — ‘Gujarat model’ largely relies on the chief minister’s style of micro-managerial functioning: he is not known to be a team player, but is an authority figure who brooks no dissent or opposition. How will that work when he has not just one, fairly homogenous, state to deal with but a country which encompasses great social, cultural, ethnic and religious diversities? Can an individual, no matter how purportedly able an administrator, handle the huge hotchpotch that is India? Echoing President Obama’s slogan, Modi supporters will chant ‘Yes, he can.
That leaves the regional parties to work on caste, creed and sex based politics which has longed plagued India and will continue to do so as we remain uneducated. Most of them will take sides post elections and their the money power will come in plus the populism of issue – based support. But a welcome change in this dance of democracy is the plank of good governance taken by national parties. Hope India has matured to the new age of capitalism. I am an ever optimist and keenly watching the battle in this test match with the limited version of the game.