PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
100 minutes in the Lok
Sabha. And 70 minutes in the Rajya Sabha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to
rant instead of speak in response to the Presidents address Motion of Thanks.
Why? Because he has decided to go into election mode if at all he ever came out
of it after 2014. Both the speeches had Congress as the focal point.
Conventionaly the response to the President's address in Parliament by a Prime
Minister focuses on the government's performance, and responds to the
But then Narendra Modi is no usual PM. For him, it doesn't matter if he is in
Parliament addressing MPs or in a stadium addressing the electorate. Let us not
get into whether it is right or wrong. Because Modi's politics cannot be
compared to the conventional norms of dignity and tradition. Indira Gandhi had
similarly used Parliament to attack her opponents. Maybe PM Modi has taken a
leaf out of her book.
Let us not be misled into believing Modi got carried away during the speeches.
It is an astute move by the man who knows the election game well.
PM Modi knows his government has failed to deliver on the pre-poll promises. The
topical budget, too, has not received great reviews. At a time like this, he
knows it is most prudent to make the opposition the centre of the narrative by
listing the mistakes they have made, and also the ones they have not made, in
the past. There is a considerable section of the society that still fumes at
Congress' corruption and Modi is confident of pulling off another election win
riding on that sentiment. He hopes that the dislike of the Gandhis would be
more than the disillusionment with the present regime.
In his speeches, Modi's history and fiction often overlapped in his attack on
the Congress. The RSS has long been known for its hatred towards Jawaharlal
Nehru, and Modi is no exception. Nehru isn't responsible for democracy in India
and we would have been better off had Sardar Patel been our first PM, as entire
Kashmir would have been ours, Modi claimed. Only to be dismissed by credible
First of all, Nehru never claimed credit for introducing democracy in India. He
didn't have to. Secondly, there is historical evidence showing Patel was ready
to let go of Kashmir. He was more interested in Junagarh. But history has never
been Modi's strong point and yet he is brazen about it. He knows the historical
evidence flies in the face of perceptions. He wanted to attack Congress, and he
did, with the no new claims on offer.
If one juxtaposes Modi's speeches from yesterday with his 2014 campaign, it
would difficult to differentiate between the two. They worked back then.
Whether these will work now or not is anybody's guess. However, the fact that
Modi has to rehash his old speech even after being 4 years in power with
absolute majority is telling.
He has to seek refuge in Congress crimes because he has little to offer the
farmers. And unemployment is rising ominously. The middle class is unhappy with
the budget. Traders are reeling under the impact of demonetization and GST. And
most importantly, law and order is in shambles.
Modi got a reality check in Gujarat and then the Rajasthan bypolls shook him
up. He knows the only way out is to deflect attention from his own lapses. In
the two speeches in Parliament, he has revealed his election agenda: Congress
corruption and Hindutva.
All eyes are now on Congress and Rahul Gandhi. Their response to this would
determine the course of 2019 elections. Rahul Gandhi has kept the attack going
for now. Immediately after PM Modi's speech, he kept the focus on the core
problems and the murky Rafale seal.
But the Modi is a master at manipulating opinions. He has the luxury of a
spineless media too. As the elections come closer, he will be more aggressive
in his attack, regardless of accuracy. "If you tell a lie big enough and keep
repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." Wonder who said this?