The sight of top BJP leaders like Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Yogi Adityanath taking on one opposition leader from one stage, in this case Rahul Gandhi, may not look awkward if there is an election around in the region. On Tuesday, they did it in Amethi, constituency of the Congress vice-president, six months after assembly elections ended in Uttar Pradesh and the next General Elections are likely to take place in early 2019.
It is apparent the BJP has gone into a campaign mode against Rahul Gandhi, who is trying hard to shake up the saffron stranglehold in Gujarat. Rahul may or may not succeed in his mission but a question here arises for the BJP as well. Will the BJP make big gains by attacking one individual?
The leaders had gathered in Amethi to launch several developmental schemes but most of the statements they made were aimed at gaining some brownie points. Consider some of the statements made by them. “He (Rahul) is mocking at the development in Gujarat. I want to ask ‘Shahzade’ of Congress as to what your three generations have given to Amethi,” said Shah, adding, “You sought account of our past three years but people of Amethi are taking account of works done here by your past three generations.”
UP CM Yog Adityanath quipped, “All of a sudden on October 2, I came to know that a ‘shahzade’ (prince) from Delhi is coming on a tour. I was amazed that he never enquired about Amethi. He remembered Italy every month, but not Amethi…But, thanks to Smritiji, the ‘Congress shahzada’ got an opportunity to stay in Amethi for three days for the first time, and people must have got an opportunity to see him.”
With the benefit of hindsight, we know the saffron party faced major embarrassment in Gujarat recently when Congress’ Ahmed Patel scraped through in Rajya Sabha elections. Patel managed to win, even as BJP appeared to have done everything it could to prevent it. BJP was particularly interested in defeating Patel because he happens to be the closest aide of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Beating Patel may have been a moral victory for the BJP but all its strategies failed amid a high political drama.
In the last three years, BJP has won votes across the country by targetting the Congress, especially Rahul and Sonia. That it continues to do so, even after establishing a firm grip on power, appears foolish. For whatever happens in Amethi in the next election will depend on a number of factors – including the performance of Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh.
Personal attacks against a leader often end up benefitting him or her. Take the case of PM Narendra Modi. He is probably the biggest beneficiary of personal attacks and who can know this better than the BJP itself. It’s time the saffron party starts focussing on issues.