Mighty Modi shaken | Daily News

Mighty Modi shaken

Will the scion of Nehru/ Gandhi clan take saddle?:

The Congress party that ruled India for 50 long years out of the total of 71 years since independence was almost written off when charismatic Narendra Modi swept into power in 2014. The hyper active Modi made Bharathiya Janata Party, which was somewhat limited to the Northern Hindi belt of North, Central and Western India into a national political movement and made inroads even to South India, Eastern India and North Eastern region in a short span of three years and the political analysts made predictions that Modi would win again in 2019 to rule India for five more years. They also believed that Congress President Rahul Gandhi was no match for fast tracking Modi.

The predictions seem to go haywire as the Congress Party emerged victorious in recent state assembly elections. When the results announced, supporters have gathered at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi to cheer their young leader.

For Rahul Gandhi, the last week’s results of state elections mark the biggest victory of his political career. Apart from the outcome itself, the party’s performance increases the chances of an alliance coming together to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections even as it strengthens the Congress’ claim to lead this grouping.

The BJP was in power and in serious contention in three states of the five that went to the polls and lost all of them. The Congress managed to win to grab power on its own or in an alliance, in all the states that went to polls, including the key Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

This was an unexpected blow to BJP, as over the past five years, it has emerged the most powerful political force India has ever seen. Prime Minister Modi also made sure that his BJP perfected the art of the campaign across several dimensions such as caste, choice of candidates, use of social media and public relations.

Strong momentum

For the young Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, to snatch power from such a party, in not one, but three states, is something that would make even experienced political campaigners very proud. A victory in these elections will give Rahul Gandhi's party a strong momentum ahead of the General Elections in 2019.

There is not much the Narendra Modi government can do to win back the voters who abandoned the BJP for Congress before the 2019 elections.

India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made sure the continuity of Congress Government during the first two decades and his daughter Indira Gandhi, who took the baton on and ran ahead until the 1977 debacle. Her decision to impose national emergency and detain opposition leaders and postpone elections boomeranged and the congress was defeated and she lost her own constituency too.

However, it took only three years for Indira Gandhi to bring Congress Party back to power by defeating the opposition which was in utter disarray during their three year rule until 1980.

The Congress lost again in 1989 and V P Singh formed Janta Dal government. But two years later P V Narasimha Rao formed a Congress government.

From 1996 to 2004 the Congress was forced to sit in the opposition when four Prime Ministers, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Deve Gowda, I K Gujral and again Atal Behari Vajpayee ruled India under Janta Dal and BJP headed governments. Congress Party bounced back under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi in 2004, but Sonia refrained from leading the government and appointed trusted colleague Dr. Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister.

BJP defeat

Congress defeat in 2009 marked the onset of strong BJP government headed by Narendra Modi. His hyper activity gave the BJP government and the BJP a solid foundation by the middle of the 5-year term and the political analysts predicted that Modi will win for the second time in 2019.

That dream shattered last week with the news of BJP defeat at the three State Assembly Elections. The main reasons for BJP’s electoral debacle include failure of the monetary policies that aimed at strengthening agriculture sector, demonetization of high-value rupee notes and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). These steps have disrupted the informal sector including agriculture. The economists pointed out that the government expected a fiscal windfall from demonetization, which could have allowed it to significantly increase welfare expenditure or investments. But, this did not happen. The benefits of GST were anyway expected to accrue in the long-term. Its costs however have manifested themselves in the short run.

These failures also derailed Modi’s most ambitious plan to generate 20 million jobs per year.

The crisis over finance policies resulted in resignation of the Governor of Reserve Bank last week. He blamed the government of attempts to interfere in banking matters. Such an attempt is bound to spook financial investors both in India and abroad. This could trigger a potential crisis in the currency and capital markets. Any such development will damage the pro-reform credentials of the Modi government.

Although the 7%-plus growth rate of the GDP has prevented a massive anger against the BJP in urban India, but the government is unlikely to push a convincing economic narrative as part of its re-election pitch in 2019 even in urban India.

Lok Sabha elections

If a comparison is made between the 2013 and 2018 verdicts, one can clearly infer that though the BJP has lost this time, its performance is not as poor as that of the Congress in 2013. There is not much difference between the two parties as far as the vote share is concerned. The 2018 election has thus been a close contest. Although the Congress has won the elections, the party will have to look ahead at the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Although the elections in our region have shown that when two major elections are held at close intervals, the result of the first one bound to impact the outcome of the other. However, the close contest in some states has shown that the Congress cannot take this for granted. Learning from the state assembly elections, the Congress Party and its President Rahul Gandhi must make necessary amends in its strategies and programmes. He will only have to look back at successes and failures of great grandfather Nehru, grandmother Indira, father Rajiv and last but not the least, mother Sonia who proved her mettle time and again.



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