By Sushil Kutty
A third term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2024 is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s goal. All its efforts and resources are concentrated on achieving this goal, i.e., Modi as Prime Minister for as long as possible, or for as long as Modi wants to remain PM! Accordingly, the Bharatiya Janata Party and its leaders, assisted by the RSS and remaining parts of the Sangh Parivar, are sparing no efforts, ready to go to any lengths. Also, if this requires a shifting of the goalposts, so be it.
Modi has told the party his target is 400+ Lok Sabha seats in 2024, to either match or beat the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s record of 404 seats from a total of 514 seats won in 1984, as well as cross the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s record of 361 seats out of 494 in 1962. For Narendra Modi, India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, is the epitome of excellence among all the prime ministers of India so far, and the final rampart. Narendra Modi’s Nehru-obsession is a well-documented phenomenon.
Nehru was Prime Minister of India for three straight terms and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wouldn’t like anything more than to beat Nehru’s “forever” record. Therefore, the extra bit of hankering in him to secure a third term. And with nobody in the BJP with the confidence and the guts to challenge him, half the battle to secure a third straight term has already been won.
The remaining 50 percent has been taken care of by the fact that without Modi leading from the front, the BJP’s election juggernaut would sink within 100 metres on the road to perdition. Just the other day, a Rajasthan Congress leader spelled this out when he said that “finish Modi and BJP will finish on its own”. He used the Hindi word “khatam”. And that is true, too. The BJP does not need the death of a “khandaan” to put an end to it!
That being said, with nine years of anti-incumbency and the wear and tear that comes with poll promises not kept, both the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi haven’t the confidence to guarantee a “third-time lucky”. This, on top of the boast of bagging 400+ Lok Sabha seats. How do you accomplish that on the back of bad press and all the debris of a “dead democracy” piling up at its doors?
Here’s where a change of guard at the crease has been effected. Accordingly, the secular vote-bank of Muslims is being wooed for whatever it takes, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading from the front. In the latest on this count, in a 2022 interview to Fareed Zakaria, Modi told the ‘global journalist’ that “Indian Muslims will live for India. They will die for India… If anyone thinks Indian Muslims will dance to their tune. They are delusional. They do not need certificates of patriotism and nationalism from anybody, they were among the bravest Indians in this country of 1.45 billion.”
Earlier this year, after a BJP national executive, Modi had asked BJP leaders and BJP cadre to fan out across the length and breadth of India and “converse” with the Muslims of India, especially the ‘Pasmanda’ among them, who, if Modi is to be believed, have been discriminated against by “high caste Muslims” and have remained backward and poor.
Divide and rule continues to be the preferred instrument to get hold of or retain power in the subcontinent and Modi is no angel who plays fair and square. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is perhaps the most opportunistic of prime ministers India has had in 75 years.
To grab power and to retain power, Modi’s modus operandi doesn’t differ. Ten years ago Modi had an allergy to “Muslim caps”. Today, nine years later, Modi has no allergy for them as he sets up meetings with Shia Muslims, Bohra Muslims and Pasmanda Muslims. And the ‘labarthi’ schemes have been rolled out to specifically target these sections of the Indian electorate.
UPA Prime Minister Manmohan Singh still gets flak for saying that Muslims had the first right on India’s resources. What about Prime Minister Narendra Modi? The Modi government has been spending thousands of crores of taxpayer money every year to woo sections of the Muslim electorate to remain in power with nobody to question Modi and the BJP’s “Muslim appeasement”.
A third term for the BJP, and for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, rests as much on the Hindu nationalist party’s captive Hindutva vote-bank as it does on the Pasmanda Muslim vote bank that it believes will vote BJP because the Modi government is so free with “sweet-nothings”, and free rations delivered to the doorsteps of millions of Pasmanda Muslims. The irony is that Rahul Gandhi’s 137-year-old so-called “grand old party” Congress will be finished off by co-opting Muslims to vote for Hindutva icon Narendra Modi. Shouldn’t the Congress and Rahul Gandhi worry? (IPA Service)