By Dr. Gyan Pathak
“Up the ante” is a common tactics resorted to by some players in betting games, in which stakes are raised too high for the opposing players in the hope to win the game. What is Modi-Shah duo has been doing for quite some time is almost the same in respect to the Lok Sabha Election 2024. They are raising the stakes too high for the political parties in opposition in every possible way – whether it is financial resources, making them defensive through cases and arrests, or keep them divided through carrot and stick policy.
There are two distinctly different opinions expressed by analysts and experts in this regard. Some are predicting that the Modi-Shah duo’s strategy would tremendously help them in returning to power after the 2024 general election, while others believe that it would unite the entire opposition against them and their strategy would reduce them to the villains of the piece and ultimate ouster of the BJP rule.
Only time would tell which opinion would prove to be correct. However, we will have some indications in 2023 itself in the legislative assemblies election of the nine states, which are considered as the semi-final for the final political battle of 2024, that would be a defining moment in the history of India – whether it remains a federal secular state or fully turn into an autocratic state.
Many leaders of the opposition have been arrested in the past nine years of Modi rule, divisions engineered within political parties and in the opposition rank, financial backbone of political parties were greatly weakened or broken through electoral bonds scheme are some of the trends in the contemporary politics. All political parties in opposition voice their concerns but have failed in offering joint opposition to the BJP’s onslaught.
However, after the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s arrest on February 26 in connection with the alleged liquor policy scam, some political commentators pointed out how it brought the opposition together. It seems to be an overstatement since the political parties have simply made statement against such arrests but they are yet to be united in any action. Mere words cannot covey the message that the opposition are united to offer direct fight to the BJP in all forthcoming state elections culminating into the final election to the Lok Sabha in 2024.
Even when Modi-Shah duo got Manish Sisodia arrested by CBI in Delhi, they were also allegedly working to intimidate the organizers of the Congress’s plenary session in Chhattisgarh. CM Bhupesh Baghel has alleged the BJP of crossing all limits on raids on businessman who helped in organizing the plenary. He alleged that ED officials carried out searches at premises linked to a businessman after the BJP couldn’t stop the Congress conclave in the state.
Since Sisodia’s arrest, all key opposition political parties have criticized the BJP’s action as a political vendetta and backed the AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal, save the Congress that took only a nuanced position alleging misuse of Central investigating agencies avoiding saying anything on AAP or Kejriwal.
It underlines the chasm in the opposition rank that seem to be unbridgeable at the present moment. Congress has always been at loggerheads with the AAP since the anti-corruption movement of 2012 led by Anna Hazare that cost the Congress its power in Delhi and AAP firmly established itself into the citadel of power. Delhi state unit of the Congress have always alleged APP of corruption and supported arrest of Sisodia and even declared Arvind Kejriwal should meet the same fate. Delhi Congress unit’s hope that the BJP’s such actions would bring destruction of AAP that may help Congress to return in power may be one of the reasons, but the political game does not end here.
Central Congress leadership Jairam Ramesh has twitted that INC has always held the belief that institutions like ED, CBI and IT department have become instruments of political vendetta and harassment under Modi Sarkar. These institutions have lost all professionalism. Opposition leaders are selectively targeted to destroy their reputation. That is all what Congress said, indicating that there is no possibility of APP-Congress unity in near future.
Modi-Shah duo’s strategy succeeded in just widening the gap between AAP-Congress by targeting AAP leaders. It has been sufficiently known by now that AAP and BRS of Telangana would remain the Duo’s target until 2024 elections along with the Congress, all three of them they believe could not unite. They would just cut each other’s votes to the advantage of BJP.
AAP has been targeting all states where Congress is strong. AAP has already wrested power from Congress in Punjab, and made Congress to lose as many as 50 seats in Gujarat by division of their votes in their own citadels. Therefore raising AAP’s stake to the level of its survival would push the party to extreme desperation which would result in division of Congress votes in all state elections and in the Lok Sabha election, to the advantage of the BJP.
Among the other regional political parties, BRS in Telangana and TMC in West Bengal have still too differing hope of political gain in their states to have unity with the Congress. On the other hand Congress leaders have been making too harsh statements to bridge the chasm between them.
Modi-Shah duo would most likely increase the stakes for all political parties in opposition and their leaders to such a level that they could not find time enough to further their political career or opportunity to unite without putting their very survival at stake. Financial and administrative hurdles are awaiting them as they try to unite for joint opposition of the BJP.
Congress, AAP, BRS, JD(U), JD(S), JMM, RJD, TMC and the left parties are thus in the urgent need of forgetting their small considerations in favour of stronger unity for joint opposition of the BJP. They must not fall prey to the BJP’s strategy of increasing their hostility and their stakes too high.
It must be kept in mind that Modi-Shah’s strategy is more than merely diverting attention of the public from Modi-Adani saga or other pressing issues of inflation, or unemployment. It is also more than stealing the political spotlight from Rahul Gandhi and his successful Bharat Jodo Yatra. It is an effort to portray all political parties as corrupt, and Modi as an impeccable political brand. (IPA Service)