BJP has emerged as a political superpower within the country in last three years. Whether it can maintain this status in the coming years will depend on one factor – economy. As it gears up for the upcoming electoral battles, leading up to 2019 General Elections, BJP has got almost all factors in its favour but economy.
The saffron party has got a charismatic leader, a thoroughly grilled and modernised party machinery, lakhs of foot soldiers of the RSS to campaign for it during the polls and a strong emotional connect with millions of voters.
At the government level, the party has shown it can take strong, unpopular decisions and strike the status quo head on. These factors always sell with average voters, who look for strong decision makers as their leaders. These factors are also the reasons why the saffron party has managed to win elections after elections since 2014.
However, days ahead may not be easy. Even for Modi. For it doesn’t matter how much popular you are. India has seen so much of political rhetoric around development in the last three years that, probably for the first time in India’s independent history, matters of economy like jobs and growth would be the biggest poll plank in 2014.
Modi came to power in 2019 promising a development and decisive leadership. He has provided the latter but development is now facing a challenge as the entire economy stares at a slowdown. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy was one of the economists who raised the fears of slowdown – something that took the ruling party by surprise. “Today, the economy is in a tailspin. Yes, it can crash. We need to do a lot of good things to revive the economy. Even a tailspin can be made to steady. If nothing is done, we are heading for a major depression. There will be mass scale… banks might collapse, factories might start closing,” he had said recently in an interview to CNN-News18.
The government is now planning to give a Rs 50,000 crore booster shot to bring the economy on track. Critics and experts, however, have differing opinions on this proposed move. As doubts exist, the ability of Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to bring the economy on growth path again will decide how it will perform in upcoming elections.
At the BJP national executive meet today, PM Modi is expected to take up issues like economic slowdown and jobs cuts, including the impact of GST, demonetisation and other economic policies. Reviewing policies is fine. But Modi has himself raised the expectations of people by promising “achche din”. Can he now pull out a magic bullet to fix the economy?
Interestingly, in a TV debate during Uttar Pradesh assembly elections early this year, Swamy had said one of the reasons former Prime Ministers Atal Bihar Vajpayee of BJP or Congress’ Narsimha Rao had lost elections was not because they failed on development front but they didn’t have strong emotional connect. The BJP of Modi and Amit Shah has mixed Hindutva and Development. This has done wonders for the party so far. But with development at risk, the party should be wary that mere Hindutva may sink it in 2019.