Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh have turned into a decisive political battlefield. The way Prime Minister Narendra Modi is posturing and positioning himself now, signify it, as well as his very high stakes, as if it would be do or die battle for him, since he will be seeking third term for himself and the BJP in the Lok Sabha election 2024.
When there is no wave to ride on, as he had advantage to have one in 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, PM Modi will have to rely entirely on his own art and science of political warfare, some of which he has already deployed against the chief contestant and the ruling Congress in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and the chief opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh, elections for which are to be held by the end of 2023, and are to be announced within weeks from now.
The arrays that we see in the political battlefield in all these three states is unprecedented in their electoral history. PM Modi seems to be contesting in every state, and in every constituency, neither the candidates nor the BJP since they have been arrayed on secondary positions. PM Modi thus needs to defend BJP’s double engine government in Madhya Pradesh, while try his best to dislodge Congress governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where PM will be contesting with CMs. In this situation the art and science of PM Modi’s political warfare will be on test, if it succeeds now his chances of returning to power after 2024 election would be brighter, and if it fails, his return would be doubtful.
PM Modi has so far achieved the Unity of Command, the first principle of his political warfare against adversary. In all the three states, BJP have been riddled with severe infighting. Unity of Command at the states’ levels could not be achieved despite all the efforts of the Central leadership. The party could not find CM faces acceptable to all factions in any of the three states, and therefore unity of command at state level could not be achieved, which necessitated the Central BJP leadership to shift the unity of command from the state level to the central level in the hands of PM Modi. The party has wrapped this action under the name of “Collective leadership”. It rendered the CM posts in all the three states open for leaders of every faction, and all are put on tenterhooks with a hope of becoming CM.
Will this strategy work in BJP’s favour? Does not likely to. To be elevated to the post of CM will need emerging as the strongest, that can be possible in two ways – first by working for themselves and secondly working against the leaders of opposing factions. Therefore, the doctrine of “Collective leadership” may ultimately turn to be counterproductive. We have seen protests in the streets when the lists of candidates were released by the party for Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
The second principle of PM Modi’s political warfare seems to become “Offensive”. He has already started verbal attack in form of allegations targeted against the CMs of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh, and the Central Congress leadership, particularly Rahul Gandhi, and the INDIA alliance that is slowly becoming a potential threat to his political future.
The entire RSS-BJP clan has been unleashed against him, and the leaders of INDIA alliance. It should be noted that in all the three states only Congress is in dominant position, and not any other political party from the INDIA alliance. PM Modi’s mention of INDIA alliance in these states is therefore an indirect expression of his perceived threat from INDIA block. This strategy is akin to the principle of mass of the military warfare in which all the efforts of combat power are directed at a place simultaneously to destroy the enemy, for example bombing a particular target from all directions.
Deployment of manpower and resources seems to the next in BJP’s strategy. They are not entirely depending on faction ridden state units, but has a plan to deploy hundreds of BJP leaders and activists from the other states to campaign in every area of the states. Heavy weight BJP Central leaders, Union Ministers, Sitting MPs are also being given tickets. They don’t have dearth of financial resources and their several candidates are already declared much before the announcement of polls by Election Commission of India, who will be spending huge money in election campaign which would not be legally called election expenses, making the entire election process de-facto unfair.
PM Modi’s objective behind all this is clear, which in itself an important principle of any warfare. It has been signalled clearly that all factions of the BJP are supposed to work for PM Modi. Anyone having any other opinion will be left out. It has already been reflected in the patch-up talks between the factional leaders, and also in the ticket distribution so far. No state BJP leader can say it confidently that they are leading the electoral battle. Everyone is supposed to say that all BJP rank and file are fighting under PM Modi’s leadership. Even RSS and BJP are not talking about the Sangh or the party but of only PM Modi.
Surprise seems to be PM Modi’s another important strategy – ie to strike the political adversary at a time or place and in a manner for which it is unprepared. PM Modi has always given surprises, and the latest being the recently held Special Session of the Parliament of India. One can be rest assured about time and schedule of the elections also along many others, both in the forthcoming Vidhan Sabha elections 2023 and Lok Sabha election 2024.
PM Modi is heading with preparation of a clear and uncomplicated plans and issuing concise orders to BJP rank and file, a style of regimentation that is hallmark of RSS mindset. All political manoeuvrings are being made aiming at Lok Sabha election 2024, and state elections 2023 are just occasion for right preparation. No stone are left unturned for creating a communal wave to ride on, but they have failed so far. Opposition leaders have been threatened of action against them on alleged corruption for legitimacy, which the opposition leaders allege to be a strategy to weaken them. Financial backbone of the oppositions has almost been broken legitimately by introduction of electoral bonds.
Congress has also become more popular in all the three states which is its only reliable strength. It has decidedly upper hand as of now, but given the BJP’s latest political moves, it may also need to finetune its strategy further, minimize infighting at the time of giving tickets, and ask support from all political parties within INDIA alliance. (IPA Service)