Modi, Shah reconciled to 2019 reality

Arun Srivastava

[dropcap]R[/dropcap]eports that point out that the BJP will lose around 100 seats, but eventually emerge as the largest single party in the Lok Sabha after the 2019 elections, may sound soothing to the ears of the leaders of the party and its rank and file, but this prospect is understood to have unnerved both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah. They fear that this could encourage the dissidents within the party to press for a change in leadership.

While both Modi and Shah are getting ready to face the Congress challenge, especially from the united Opposition, the party’s internal threat is a major cause for concern. Anti-Modi leaders and forces inside the BJP have been mustering strength to demonstrate their strike power at precisely the right time. Realising the intensity of the situation, the RSS leadership is getting ready for action so that Modi and Shah get some breathing space. But they are at loss to work out the mechanism to check the Congress onslaught. Rahul Gandhi has already dropped hint of the nature of attack he would be launching against the Modi government, in general, and the BJP, in particular. According to Congress sources, since Modi has miserably failed on the economic front, the BJP, with the help of the RSS, would like to focus more on the Hindutva appeal. Of course, it would play to the hilt its programme for the rural poor and Dalit voters.

The tenor of the Congress campaign was clear when, at a meeting in Germany, Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacked the prime minister for his exclusivist policies and programmes, which, he said, would breed insurgencies. Rahul also blasted the religious approach of both the RSS and the BJP.

In London, the Congress president compared the RSS to the Muslim Brotherhood, a political Islamist group with a strong presence in the Arab world, particularly in Egypt, and said that the Sangh fountainhead wanted one ideology to run through every single institution and crush all other ideas.

Although Rahul, of late, has adopted an aggressive posture against the prime minister, this was, probably, the first time that he had chosen to attack the BJP and the RSS together. Shah has fielded at least three senior leaders and spokespersons to defend Modi and his governance. Their action plan is to keep Rahul embroiled on the issue of the formation of Opposition alliance. They hope this will not materialise and the failure will smear Rahul’s public face, which will, in turn, boost the prospects and image of Prime Minister Modi. Already, the BJP is harping on the point that the united Opposition was nothing but a disaster.

Some time ago, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav had described the unity move of the non-BJP parties as an “alliance of corrupt parties”, which is totally bereft of ideological commitment. He also credited his party with the peace largely prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir and militancy being neutralised effectively after a long time.

It is an irony that people believe in the government’s claim that the country’s economy is the fastest-growing and the NDA government has made grand economic gains, but it is also intriguing that either Modi, or his aides, have failed to quantify the gains. It is a paradox that Modi, who has been using jibes against Nehru all these years, has, finally, come to embrace his vision of socialist ideas.

Modi has launched a number of welfare schemes, but none of them is successful, or has made a significant impact on the lives of the common people. Modi has been speaking of empowering Dalits, but his cadres have been lynching them.

Modi led the NDA to power in May 2014 on the promise of restoring India to a path of high economic growth, ending economic mismanagement, creating millions of jobs and rooting out corruption. But the failure of the government in boosting the economy and creating jobs has hurt the country badly. Undeniably, India is in negative growth mode. Industrial production is down for the first time in two decades. Export fell by 20 per cent and at least 1.5 million officially employed workers are expected to lose their jobs soon.

Rahul’s reference to the Islamic State, drawing a parallel between the RSS and the Muslim Brotherhood, has angered the BJP, but there is no denying the fact that Modi has failed to provide a direction and meaning to the growth and development of the country.

(The author is a political commentator)