How Rahul Gandhi is changing the election 2019 narrative
Bengaluru, Jan 27: Something's been changing, over the last year or so, in the political narrative of the country. And it's Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, who seems to be driving it while those in power seem stuck in the past.
The 2014 Lok Sabha elections were a 'Corrupt' vs 'Communal' fight. On the one hand was the 'corrupt' Congress-led UPA and on the other was the 'communal' BJP-led NDA.
At least that's how they targeted each other. Including the leadership of both the parties. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi led the charge against then-candidate Narendra Modi, while he spearheaded an all-out attack on them.
How it turned out, made history. After a ten-year reign at the Centre, the Congress was brought down to a paltry 44 seats in the lower house of Parliament. To make matters worse, it lost elections in state after state, wherever it was pitched directly against the 'Communal' BJP.
It took around four years and multiple losses for the grand old party to realise that it wasn't going to win this battle playing the same old card. Particularly given the success that Modi's BJP achieved in consolidating the 'Hindu vote,' unlike it had ever been seen in democratic India. Especially in the Hindi Belt of north-central India.
This finally led to the Rahul-led Congress dropping the 'Communal' charge and using the same tool Modi had used so effectively against the UPA in 2014. The 'Corrupt' and 'inefficient government' tags.
Herein lies the reason for Rahul's all-out and unrelenting attack on the Modi government with the likes of 'Rafael scam', PNB fraud etc., and terming the Modi government a 'suit-boot ki sarkar' working for the benefits of the rich, and against the poor and middle class.
He has also successfully combined this with the Agrarian crisis as well as lack of sufficient job creation for youth and linking it with Modi government's steps like Demonetisation (which he keeps calling a scam) and implementing the Goods and Services Tax regime.
Such a change along with adoption of what many have termed as 'soft-Hindutva'- visiting temples, talking about his Gotra, etc.- have finally brought him success. Witnessed in Congress' direct defeat of the BJP in the Hindi Belt states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh late last year.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi and his party look stuck in the 2014 mode of blaming the Congress for all that's wrong with India, even after BJP enjoying a clear majority at the Centre and being in power in an unprecedented number of states.
This isn't working anymore. As survey after survey ahead of the 2019 elections is showing. Most predicting the saffron party and its current coalition partners falling short of the magic halfway mark. Something thought impossible not too long ago.
With merely a few months left for the elections to go, it may be a smart thing for the BJP to move away from dynasty based attacks to more pro-farmer and youth (read job) based steps along with those against considered financial defaulters (to counter the suit-boot ki sarkar jibe), which can be taken to the voters. Even on the Hindu vote front, only a big step on the 'Ram temple' issue will help consolidate its major vote bank.
Economically weaker sections based quota was a smart political move on this front, but it will not be enough on its own. As 'corrupt dynasty' or 'Congress-Mukt Bharat' type strategies aren't going to help the BJP achieve the high of the last election this time around.