By Sushil Kutty
Following opposition parties’ feelers to each other, and after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s meeting with Congress party’s disqualified Member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi in the company of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav, the Bharatiya Janata Party was in some degree of nervousness as was apparent from some visible signs which gripped the party that recently celebrated its 43rd foundation day.
The nervousness was seen when, instead of the ranking party spokespersons, or Union ministers like Smriti Irani and Piyush Goyal, who were lined up to tamp down on Rahul Gandhi’s damaging Modi-Adani rhetoric, the BJP had to fall on Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Ramdas Athawale, to stand up to the salvos fired at the Bharatiya Janata Party by an emerging combined opposition.
Though it was considered that opposition unity has still to cross many more hurdles, Ramdas Athawale the BJP was always reading things related to attempts at bringing about opposition unity seriously. Bringing Ramdas Athawale into the arena proved that any step closer to opposition unity remains the ruling party’s No.1 fear. It is a given that after tasting two successive back-to-back electoral majorities, the BJP would be like fish out of water if it loses a clear majority. Therefore, the talk of “400+ super-majority” and ‘Modi-ji Ek Akela Sabpe Bhaari’.
Ramdas Athawale Wednesday said in straight enough words that “Pradhan Mantri Modiji” can on his own (ek akela) take on the entire lot of opposition parties in 2024. He could have added “Bring it On…” considering that he’s a great one for song and dance, but the lovable “Mr-jester” in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet fell back on the acronym “NDA” to lend weight to the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“If opposition parties want to come together, they can. (But) PM Modi alone is enough to take on all of them. NDA is really strong under the leadership of PM Modi,” Athawale said, with maybe Nitish Kumar and Rahul Gandhi in his thoughts. Perhaps, also Arvind Kejriwal, for whom the gates of electoral heaven had been left open after the Election Commission recognized AAP as a national party, at par with the Congress, and the Bharatiya Janata Party; perhaps also on course with these two parties to contender for “PM face.”
Kejriwal was there with Nitish Kumar at the latter’s meeting with Rahul Gandhi. And whenever the Bihar CM is in Delhi, and not tied up in Patna, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chair sounds creaky and shaky. For years the BJP successfully kept Nitish Kumar glued to Patna, and to the Bihar CM’s chair. Off and on Bihar’s ‘shushashan babu’ would sound like he wanted to break-free. This time it’s for real or, shall we say, Nitish Kumar has broken free, for good?
Is that what got the BJP in the grip of a nervous streak in the first place, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi stood up in the Rajya Sabha and, thumping his chest, dared the Opposition with ‘Ek Akela Sabpe Bhaari’? Or, was it the taste of nervousness left in the mouth after Rahul Gandhi vented ‘Adani-Hindenburg’, and asked point-blank what Prime Minister Narendra Modi was doing reclining in the company of Gautam Adani?
And what is ‘Ek Akela Sabpe Bhaari’, other than a war-cry, a challenge? If it’s a reminder of the brute majority the BJP has in the Lok Sabha, isn’t this brute majority being flaunted a little late in the day, less than a year short of the 2024 general elections? Isn’t it odd and strange that the BJP, Modi and Amit Shah in particular, sounds so very confident of retaining its Lok Sabha majority of 2019 in 2024 also, beyond even 2029?
What’s in the BJP’s arsenal that makes Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘Ek Akela Sabpe Bhaari’? Could it be the Pasmanda vote-bank that Modi has been wooing and feting with “labarthi” schemes such as free rations and homes under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana? Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during her tour of the United States, lined up the favours done to the Muslim minority community by the Modi government.
The list is impressive, to say the least. And like everybody deprived of basic necessities, even the minority community will vote for continuation of the largesse. The Modi government has also been using its ‘Mudra Yojana’ heavily to woo unemployed Pasmanda Muslim youth who prefer to set up small businesses in “Muslim areas” to jobs outside these areas.
This, in addition to using government scholarships to help Muslim youth sit the UPSC examinations. Has the BJP appropriated the Muslim vote-bank of the secular opposition? All this, even while convincing the BJP’s Hindu vote-bank that development comes first and Hindutva goals later. ‘Ek Akela Sabpe Bhaari’ translates to Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking on the entire Opposition all alone, in all his glory.
Even otherwise, the mainstream media – which had been totally dedicated to taking forward the BJP agenda all these 8.5 years – has been assiduously building up the Modi cult at the expense of all other top BJP leaders, except, maybe, Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. The 2024 General Elections will be fought on the plank of ‘Ek Akela Sabpe Bhaari’ versus whatever opposition unity is achieved before the year 2024. (IPA Service)