Too much of criticism can make a person Prime Minister of India. No one knows this better than PM Narendra Modi, who was subjected to intense media criticism and opposition leaders’ ridicule in the run up to 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But Modi emerged triumphant, with great numbers. As the party led by Amit Shah fine tunes its strategy for 2019 General Elections, it should be wary of repeating the same mistakes opposition and critics did to Modi in 2014.
At least the saffron party leaders can take lesson from Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, who was literally mocked at by other politicans and intellegentsia after he resigned, just 47 days after hardly managing to run government in alliance with Congress in 2013. He faced severe public mockery, accused of being an irresponsible leader. It was predicted by many political pundits that Delhi would never vote for Kejriwal again. But he came back, and how! Delhiites gave him 67 out of 70 seats, a feat other parties can only dream of.
At present, BJP continues to be arrested by Rahul Gandhi complex. Attacking the Congress party vice-president, especially his dynastic credentials, has done wonders for BJP leaders in the last few years. On Monday too, BJP chief Amit Shah slammed Rahul. Speaking at the BJP National Executive in Delhi, Shah said the Congress leader compromised dignity of India by saying dynastic politics is a usual practice in the country.
Rahul’s recent remark in the US on dynastic politics certainly demands an intellectual inquiry. He was not saying something out of the box. Shah said that top leaders like PM Narnedra Modi, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and President Ram Nath Kovind have risen from humble backgrounds. This is true but it cannot be denied that independent India has been ruled by dynasts for decades, not just at the Centre but in states as well. Dynasties are not dead. Though dynasty-based parties have suffered losses recently, no one can claim they won’t come back to power again.
From 2014 General Elections campaign to this year’s Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, anti-dynasty rhetoric directed at Rahul and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav helped BJP secure historic number of votes. This happened because people wanted change. After three years of BJP rule, the party should be aware of the fact than an anti-Modi undercurrent is brewing across the country. It is not that Modi’s personal popularity has diminished but scores of people are disappointed amid fears of economic slowdown and poor growth in number of jobs. Progressive measures like GST have hit small traders as they struggle to understand the nitty-gritties of the new law. They are yet to come to terms with new initiatives, providing a happy hunting ground for the opposition.
The BJP would do well for itself by moving beyond Rahul and start talking serious stuff that would restore confidence among the distraught voters. To start with, it shouldn’t assume that Rahul cannot win votes on his own. Indian democracy has thrown big surprises in past. Kejriwal is the recent example. The BJP shouldn’t also forget that Indians had elected Indira Gandhi after keeping her out of power for only three years in the wake on Emergency.