On 11th March 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proved his status as India’s biggest leader when he single-handedly wiped out Samajwadi Party, Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party from Uttar Pradesh as BJP won a massive mandate of 325 seats. Within a week, the party also formed governments in Goa and Manipur while Trivendra Singh Rawat is set to take oath as the Uttarakhand Chief Minister on Sunday afternoon. Now, people may say that Modi isn’t working, his policies may not be good etc. but all these things aside and his dominance is a completely different story which has forced even old players like Mani Shankar Aiyar and Nitish Kumar to consider a grand alliance to defeat him.
While all the other political parties are trying different ways to dethrone the Indian Prime Minister, comes out West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday and says, “BJP are the party number three or four in Bengal… How will they be able to capture all the seats?” Now, I’ve never been good with history and numbers but five years ago, wasn’t BJP number three party in Uttar Pradesh too? In 2012, it won 47 seats in UP polls, seven more than Congress that finished on number 4 and 33 less than BSP that was the second largest party. In fact, it was exactly 177 seats behind Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party.
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Comes March 2017 and Samajwadi Party which has dominated Uttar Pradesh politics for more than two decades now managed to win only 54 seats despite forming a pre-poll alliance with Congress. Akhilesh Yadav who was once dreaming to promote his father as a Prime Ministerial candidate has been left in splits and now faces a mammoth task of rebuilding his party from the scratch. Something similar has happened with Bahujan Samaj Party which is now facing an existential crisis.
Arvind Kejriwal whose political career is based on criticising Narendra Modi has suffered humiliating losses in both Goa and Punjab while Rahul Gandhi’s political career is under serious doubts as many of his own party members have questioned the leadership within Congress. So, what is common between all these political leaders? Well, all of them kept ignoring Narendra Modi as a threat. They kept underplaying him and the master strategist Modi has by his side in Amit Shah, kept using it to his advantage.
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On the same day, when Mamata Banerjee gave the above statement while addressing the media she also said, “Even America and Germany don’t use EVMs during the election. I would like to request Election Commission of India (EC) to call an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.” So, even before the counting was done, actually even before the polling was done, in fact, even before the election dates were announced, Mamata Banerjee revealed her nervousness.
This statement shows that deep down she sees Narendra Modi as a big threat but is not ready to accept this in public. That’s understandable as well because as a political leader you cannot appear weaker than your opponent in front of public. However, sometimes instead of the opposition, you need to underplay yourself. You need to understand the direction of the wind and just flow with it because going into the real battle, the underdog always has an upper hand.