It’s time for the BJP to say ‘Modi for PM’   Leave a comment


The Karnataka election result does not change the electoral momentum which is right now with the BJP. The debacle in Bangalore is just a one-off defeat caused by circumstances which were peculiar to the political equations in the state. The departure of former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa from the BJP fold meant that the saffron vote would split. As LK Advani rightly pointed out in his recent blog, the Karnataka defeat did not really come as a “surprise”. For the  BJP worker, there is no need to rue the misfortune in the southern state.

That the Karnataka debacle is an exception and not the trend is obvious from the political indications that are available from the states going to the polls in November this year. In all the four major poll-bound states, the BJP is in ascendance and is unlikely to concede political space to its principal rival — the Congress. For example, in both Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the two chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Raman Singh have converted their domain into invincible fiefdoms. In Jaipur, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his party are in complete disarray. Even Sheila Dikshit is looking vulnerable in Delhi where she had performed a commendable hat-trick.

In fact, if Parliamentary polls were held within the next few months, a tainted, shattered Congress would have found it difficult to cross the 125-seat mark — a long way down from its previous 200-plus tally. In the northern and the western states, the Congress is expected to fare badly wherever it is directly pitted against the BJP. In Gujarat, Narendra Modi will continue to hold sway. In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena-BJP combine may substantially better its score when compared to the last election, and in Haryana, the Bhupinder Hooda charm is fading away. In Punjab, there is no reason to believe that the Akali Dal-BJP alliance is in decline.

But does that mean the BJP surges ahead and forms the next Union government? No, definitely not. The BJP is still severely restricted by its narrow geography and has not really grown beyond its present western and northern boundaries. It may at best reach a tally of 170. And the Congress-BJP taken together will cross the majority mark of 272 by a wafer-thin margin leaving an amount of political space under the control of the Third Front flag-bearers. Mulayam, Mayawati, Mamata, Jayalalithaa, Naveen and Jagan are all capable of picking up a significant percentage of the seats in their respective strongholds.

No doubt, the average BJP worker has realised that the party needs a bigger impetus if the Third Front aspirants are to be kept at bay. And to them this impetus is called the Modi phenomenon.

They believe once this phenomenon is unleashed, the BJP can grab even an impressive chunk of the seats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (where Nitish Kumar is expected to walk out of the NDA coalition once Modi’s name is announced as the Prime Ministerial candidate). Yes, Modi did campaign at a few rallies in Karnataka and failed to sway the voter. But those rallies were not part of a detailed, cohesive campaign. Once Modi is given the pedestal he will be able to galvanise a majority of the party factions and even the larger Sangh Parivar, and will be able to deliver what now seems to be impossible.

Such is the nature of the trust reposed in Modi. But Modi, if he takes charge, will have to find a way out in Karnataka even if that means somehow assuaging the hurt feelings of Yeddyurappa and giving him the leadership of the campaign from Bangalore. Modi will also have to make inroads in Uttar Pradesh and make the average voter think beyond caste and communal politics. In Bihar, if Nitish Kumar finally does leave the NDA, Modi will have to work his magic and ensure that the upper caste voter and a section of the OBCs do stay back with the BJP. He will also have to revive the BJP’s fortunes in another state which is fast slipping out of the party’s control — Jharkhand.

It is a tall task. Modi’s job is not going to be easy. But there should not be an inordinate delay in naming Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate. It is clear that there is confusion in the Congress hierarchy as the party grapples with a reluctant Rahul. The BJP will enjoy an edge if it names its leader while its adversary gropes in the dark not knowing whether a tired Manmohan would still be acceptable to the electorate.

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Posted May 19, 2013 by avinash2060 in Modi v/s Rahul

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