By Sushil Kutty
The Bharatiya Janata Party, the election winning machine, is closing the year a little rough for the wear, despite the resounding win in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home-state Gujarat, where fellow Gujarati, Home Minister Amit Shah, contributed his two bit with a threat and a promise, both rolled into one, reminding the electorate of both religious denominations that lessons forgotten can be taught all over again, so help me God!
It worked! With Modi, the BJP mascot for all seasons, and henceforth, for all municipal elections, too, addressing over 40 rallies, and undertaking as many as 8 roadshows, begging and pleading to the Hindu part of the electorate to reward him, their fellow Gujarati, their tallest Gujarati, with the biggest electoral victory ever in Gujarat history. The electorate gave him his wish and it helped because the other two elections, Delhi-MCD and Himachal Pradesh, went down the tube and the Modi- Shah juggernaut could only salvage Gujarat.
Overall, at the end of 2022, it was a mixed bag for the saffron party, the end of the year spoils equally divided. Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP got the Delhi MCD, the Congress wrested Himachal Pradesh and Modi’s BJP got to keep Gujarat.
That evening Modi and Shah went on to tom-tom the BJP’s Gujarat victory at the party’s Delhi-based headquarters, with their good deed for the day done, i.e., forgiving party president JP Nadda for losing his home-state Himachal Pradesh to the Congress, and this when the Congress top-shots weren’t anywhere near Himachal.
Two lost, one won! This isn’t how a voracious election winning juggernaut pulls down the shutters on a year. Early in 2022, Uttar Pradesh was won, but not with the finesse expected from a party of the BJP’s repute. But then, there was the consolation that the Congress was finished, almost.
Also, if it wasn’t for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh would have slipped through the gaps as easily as Akhilesh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party had stopped being Samajwadi socialists. The Bharatiya Janata Party sustains and stays in the reckoning because its adversaries aren’t of the calibre expected of an electoral democracy.
Modi’s hard-hitting bites on dynastic politics has left dynastic parties panting to find space in the heads of the voters. Dynasts, when they call themselves liberals and progressives, do not fit the socialist Samajwadi idea. The late Mulayam Singh Yadav’s legacy is being squandered on the elite dynastic leadership he nurtured and left behind.
The BJP with nothing socialism or Samajwadi in its genes will continue to lord over Uttar Pradesh as long as it remains in power at the Centre of India, and holds the key to India’s exchequer. The best part of taxpayer loot is that the money can be used by the party in power any which way it wants, from distributing favours, to spending it on labarthi schemes, including the PM Awas Yojana.
Modi and Shah have discovered for the BJP the cheapest fuel to keep winning elections, free rations for hungry mouths. Going into 2023, the latest instalments of free rations have been announced, targetting 80 crore aching bellies. Free rations won the BJP Uttar Pradesh, and labarthis are a burgeoning number strewn across India.
Union Minister of Food & Public Distribution Piyush Goyal and BJP IT-Cell head Amit Malviya could not help smacking their lips in anticipation when announcing on Twitter the 2023 schedule of distribution of free rations to the electorate paid for with taxpayer money filched from the public exchequer.
The Bharatiya Janata Party boasts of being the largest political party in the world. What it does not boast about is that it thrives on the empty bellies of the perpetually poor, people who take their monthly grants of 35 kg of food-grains and vote for Modi.
The BJP is a vehicle for change but the change that it brings about is skewed and two-faced, one delivering everything that is permanent to a few crony capitalists, and the other that is transient, monthly handouts, to the vast majority, the Great Unwashed.
That said, the BJP has an agenda. That of the Hindu nationalist party. But for the progressive West that Modi courts on the international stage, he would have added to the scalp of Article 370, which he took after the blockbuster 2019 victory. Modi’s diehard supporters believe he still will deliver Hindu Rashtra to them.
Modi keeps them hooked with the promise kept dangling. The beauty is they cannot jettison him because there is TINA to reckon with. The hardcore BJP voters are living on the promise that one day, the sooner the better, Yogi Adityanath will ascend the throne and do what Modi could do but did not do!
To them Modi and Shah are laggards, and slackers, on a different agenda. The Modi-Shah combine, knowing that TINA will vote for the BJP, doesn’t matter for what and why, is studiously wooing the Pasmanda Muslim even if this angers the hardcore Hindu voter.
Modi and Shah are on the long haul. For now there are a slew of 2023 elections to fight and win and then there is the big one in 2024. Much of 2023 will go in preparing for the 2024 general elections and setbacks in the 2023 assembly elections would be suicidal. What bothers the BJP is a likely consolidation of opposition parties.
And now there’s the spectre of Rahul Gandhi, philosopher, ideologue, prophet, travelling the country and opening ‘Mohabat Dukaans’ in every state, his beard growing at the pace of his increasing popularity among the masses, leaving the Bharatiya Janata Party wondering what to do with this ‘Superman- in-Tshirt’, who neither cold can deter, nor heat can singe.
Year 2023 could find the BJP bowled out by a hitherto maverick politician who shoots flying kisses at BJP cadre and asks tough questions of BJP leaders. The transformation of Rahul Gandhi cannot be more transformational than this, all in the matter of a year, 2022! (IPA Service)