Bjp Poised, Oppn Flounders

Bjp Poised, Oppn Flounders

BJP banking mainly on Modi government performance and his charisma comes across as self-assured to reach its target of 370 seats so as to achieve the NDA target of ‘Ab ki Baar 400 Paar.’ It is stitching up alliances fast and roping in back past allies like TDP. In Karnataka, it is hopeful of a comeback, even as it is making inroads into West Bengal. In Telangana, it hopes the BRS loss will be its gain. In Delhi, AAP is on the defensive. Add to it, Modi has been on a whirlwind tour, charging up party cadres and the allies alike. In contrast, the INDI Alliance appears like a divided house. Including as many as 25 guarantees in its manifesto, the Congress is yet to seize the nation’s attention

Will BJP be able to fulfil its quest for 400? Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known to set tasks and try to make impossible possible. But to be successful in his journey towards ‘Ab ki Baar 400 Paar,’ it is important for BJP to maintain its strike rate as it needs to retain the 303 seats it had won in 2019. BJP will have to gain another 70 seats and efforts are now on to regain the lost ground by stitching old alliances. But then the partners who quit NDA should be in a position to retain their strength in respective states.

The big question is whether BJP can retain and maintain the sweep it had seen in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Karnataka in 2019. In addition, they had 25 members, (23 YSRCP and 3 TDP) from Andhra Pradesh and 17 members from Telangana supporting them in every bill the Centre had brought before the Parliament. Though the BJP has taken up a silent but a massive exercise of ‘acquire and merge’ some parties, still the big question that stares in its face is where will it improve its strike rate.

The recent sweep in the Assembly elections and the Ram Mandir will have the maximum impact in the Northern states, particularly UP, and would certainly prove to be an advantage for the Lotus party. It has also reduced the opposition threat in Maharashtra by splitting the Shiv Sena and the NCP. But then will people accept this and sail with the BJP or will they feel that the Maratha self respect has been hurt? A lot depends on this issue if BJP has to improve its tally here.

When it comes to campaign style, BJP is heavily depending on the performance of Modi’s 10-year governance as against the performance of Rahul Gandhi, who the bloc INDI and Rahul himself, who was never in power feel, is the prime challenger to Modi. Both sides have come up with guarantees. Will people opt for “Modi Ka Guarantee” of some major decisions or the Congress party’s 25 guarantees which it claims are based on the five pillars of justice.

Congress guarantees include Rs 1 lakh to poor women, right to apprenticeship, a legal guarantee for MSP, passing a constitutional amendment to raise the 50 per cent cap on reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs, a nation-wide caste census and scrapping of Agnipath scheme and no ‘one nation one election’ proposal. It also promised to fill nearly 30 lakh vacancies in sanctioned posts at various levels in the central government and said the Rajasthan model of cashless insurance of up to Rs 25 lakh will be adopted for universal healthcare. The Congress will move a constitutional amendment to raise the 50 per cent cap on reservations for SC, ST and OBC.

The Congress promises to conduct a nationwide socio-economic and caste census. Appealing to people to look beyond religion, language, caste and choose wisely to install a democratic government, the party said the general elections present an opportunity to radically the change the style of governance that has been in evidence over the past decade. It said it guarantees a new ‘right to apprenticeship act’ to provide one-year apprenticeship to every diploma holder or graduate below age of 25.

Alleging that the BJP has turned out to be a “giant washing machine”, the Congress on Friday vowed that the allegations against those who had cases registered against them but were allowed to escape the law after they joined the BJP would be “revived and investigated”. The Congress said that if it comes to power, it will probe demonetisation, Rafale deal, Pegasus spyware usage, and the electoral bonds scheme and bring those who made “illegal gains” through these measures to justice. The party alleged that in the last 10 years, several measures taken by the BJP-led NDA government were actually a “cloak for corruption”. The BJP was quick to react saying that the Congress has titled its manifesto ‘Nyay patra’, which means it admits that it has done ‘Anyay (injustice) during its 55-60 years rule in the country.”

But then the big question is can the fractured bloc INDI succeed in making people believe these 25 guarantees? AAP what was considered to be the fastest growing political party in the last decade from among the bloc INDI, which came to power waging a battle against corruption, is now accused of the very demon it had fought against. The charge against AAP is that it is more focused on freebie culture instead of addressing institutional inequalities.

If we look at West Bengal, Mamata who continues to be a strong leader in the state now seems to be committing ideological flip flops. One still does not know what the real TMC ideology is. In Bihar, opposition has a maverick politician Lalu Prasad Yadav whose wit and charm is no more accepted by people.

In South, the road for BJP is not smooth in Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh, the political scenario is still not very clear. Though BJP has roped in TDP back into the NDA fold, still the saffron party has not been able to create confidence among the people that it is determined to go against YSRCP. There is a lurking suspicion that the alliance could be a strategic move to help the YSRCP though the mood of the people at the ground level appears to be different.

This doubt arises because Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not at his best in giving the guarantee of a change in the government in the state though the BJP knows that it hardly has 0.5 per cent vote share and cannot win even one assembly seat on its own. Interestingly, even the YSRCP has not been making any adverse comments against BJP during its campaign. What does that indicate?

However, when it comes to Karnataka, BJP certainly seems to have regained some of its lost ground. So could be the case in Telangana where the loss of BRS will prove to be the gain of BJP. Like AAP, BRS, too, is in disarray following the arrest of Kavitha and it has been talking about pulling down the newly elected Congress government in the state. The party also has been facing large-scale desertions. What is more surprising is instead of redesigning its political strategies; BRS now blames Vastu deficiencies in their party headquarters as the reason for its downfall. If that was so, then how did it win in 2019 with a thumping majority?

If one were to sum up this political maze, the BJP is still in the most advantageous position as the opposition is confused and has recalcitrant leaders while Modi continues to be the trump card for the saffron party, who like a shrewd business man has set the target of 400-plus. Normally, in any business if one achieves at least 70% of the target, BJP can claim that it is close to its quest for 400.

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