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Rashtra Morcha, No Match To Ideology-Driven BJP That Has Driver Like Modi

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Political Strategist Prashant Kishor, who attended the meeting held at Sharad Pawar’s house, believes a third or fourth front cannot take on Narendra Modi. He said history shows such fronts do not work. 

He is absolutely right. Such fronts are a failure. The Congress has the reputation of replacing the prime ministers or pulling down governments formed by such fronts.

In 1979, the Congress replaced Charan Singh with the help of other front parties. They also replaced VP Singh with Chandrasekhar, and in 1996, replaced H D Deve Gowda with IK Gujral only to abandon him in ten months.

Therefore, one should not be surprised at the absence of Congress leaders at the meeting convened by former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha. However, the meeting confirms that there is an urge to form a united opposition to take on BJP in 2024, but without the Congress joining them. It is a guess though.

But will such a front, without Congress succeed? And under whose leadership? 

The Lutyens media and the chattering Clubhouse bums are active in propagating the idea of a powerful leader of a regional party who can be named as the prime ministerial candidate of the opposition to challenge Modi. 

However, people have a different choice. 

According to a national survey conducted by Prashnam (AI technology startup) covering 397 Lok Sabha constituencies and 2,309 assembly constituencies, Modi is the most popular choice with as much as 33 per cent of the respondents choosing him as their next prime minister.

Rahul Gandhi is the second most popular choice with 17 percent of the respondents favoring him and only seven percent of respondents picking Mamata Banerjee. 

And surprisingly, Sharad Pawar was ticked off by less than one percent of respondents. Probably, the vasooli scam has hit the image of his party after Anil Deshmukh was forced to resign as Home Minister over the issue.

However, is it appropriate to claim that elections in India are leader-centric and presidential in nature as the Lutyens media would have us believe? 

Or, is it the greater acceptability of BJP’s Hindu politics? If one flips through the political history of the country, parties that adopted Hindu politics have reaped electoral dividends.

The Congress also had tasted victories playing the Hindu card in the past. In fact, Hindu politics was set in motion by the Congress after the emergency. After losing the election in 1977, Indira Gandhi found a galvanizing issue in the politics of religion. 

In 1984, Indira Gandhi sent Hindus a strong message ahead of a parliamentary election that her government was capable of protecting them from terrorists and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a Sikh preacher who called for an independent Sikh nation and was implicated in violence against Hindus in Punjab. 

In the general election the same year, Congress was the most pro-Hindu of all the major parties and won by a huge majority. In the same period, BJP was conceived not as a Hindu nationalist party but as a centrist one. They had dumped their Hindu nationalism after years of failure to attract a popular following in India. 

After tasting defeat in the 1984 elections, the BJP returned to its original politics by restoring the emphasis on Hindu nationalism, that included a statement in support of building a Ram temple at Ayodhya. It was soon able to outsmart Congress as the champion of Hindus.

During Narendra Modi’s first term in office, the BJP took steps to play out the Hindu card outside the legislative arena. They appointed a Hindu religious leader Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh chief minister, renamed cities and roads after places and figures from Hindu mythology, and vigorously sanctioned ghar wapsi.

In the second term of Modi’s office, the BJP criminalized the system of instant divorce among Muslims, which was an initial effort towards introducing uniform civil code.

They also introduced CAA that aims to grant citizenship to the persecuted Hindus who had migrated to India from Islamic countries Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. These moves are aimed at protecting the Hindus.

Further, the party enacted an amendment in antiterrorist law that allows the government to designate individuals as terrorists regardless of their organizational affiliation with a relatively low burden of proof. 

Later, they abrogated the law that gave special status to Kashmir, fulfilling their oldest and most controversial tenets of its Hindu nationalist agenda.

These moves have helped BJP to reap dividends in Bihar elections and strengthened their position in West Bengal by increasing their tally of assembly seats from three to 79. Prior to these elections, the BJP had returned to power at the centre in 2019 with a larger mandate compared to 2014 general elections.

Simply put, these electoral victories are endorsements to BJP’s Hindu politics. Of course, there are other factors too.

Congress, in the meantime, have been losing elections due to their wavering Hindu politics, from the time of Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi; Rajiv Gandhi to Sonia Gandhi, and Sonia Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi. They have been reduced to a regional party.

Therefore, it is appropriate to claim that elections in India are ideology-driven and it helps a party that has a driver like Modi.

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