Prime Minister Modi has launched his grand campaign for 2019. He and Amit Shah are taking the tour of the country and enumerating their agenda, but are conveniently silent on the promises they had made between 2012 and 2014, which helped Modi to win 2014 general elections. It is not their fault that they are silent on what they promised; it is the people of the country who are indifferent to those promises.
But there is a fundamental difference between the election campaigns of 2014 and that of 2019 – as capturing power was on everyone’s mind in 2014 that stirred up the party functionaries as early as 2012-13, but that is not the case now. The thrill of winning in 2014 has changed into fear of losing in 2019. Perhaps this is the reason why the leaders became larger than the party in this election campaign, whereas in the 2012-14 election campaign the party and the workers were supreme. There was hardly any place where the BJP workers were absent. In that campaign the difference between leader and worker was indistinguishable. A large number of people have colored themselves into the BJP color.
People were fed up with the Congress regime. They thought that a new party and a new government would infuse freshness in governance and open up the doors of opportunities, hopes and happiness for them. Hence, many voted for the BJP for the first time in their lives. As for current campaign the cacophony of promises is the same, but the intensity and strength has somewhat lessened this time around. Indeed a large crowd attends prime minister’s rallies, but along with that large crowd, a large number of buses lined up for several kilometers near the rallies venues. Now it seems that if the buses and sumptuous arrangements of food were not made, the crowd that is visible would not be there. However, despite this, at most places all the chairs in prime minister’s rallies are not filled. Recently, Modi visited Rajasthan where many chairs were found unoccupied. One may say that more chairs were supplied than actually needed, but this was not the case in the election campaign from 2012 to 2014 in which people came to rallies on their own and were eager to hand over the country to someone in whom they had much faith.
Empty chairs would have been overlooked, but at many place people started venting their anger as well. Perhaps that is why BJP has come under a little strain and the RSS has decided to take charge of election campaign by engaging all its associate organizations. Uttar Pradesh is RSS’s main concern. Informed sources said that in the internal survey of the RSS figures about their victory in Uttar Pradesh would change. This is a major concern for the Sangh Parivar and the BJP; that is why they are pouring their heart out in preparation of party’s rallies.
In Rajasthan, District Magistrates not the party workers were given the responsibility to mobilize crowd to the rally of Prime Minister Modi. The same is happening in Uttar Pradesh and in the states where Modi is visiting. This is a telling situation for a party which claims to retain power till 2024. With the help of bureaucrats or the District Magistrates one can establish dictatorship, but it is not going to be easy to win election with their help. Modi is addressing every section of the society. He has turned his attention towards farmers. The government realizes the anger of the farmers, but the realization has come a bit late. Had the government woken up to the farmer’s problems three years ago, then the prime minister would not have to walk around the country at this pace. However, the farmers had never been the priority of any government. It is because the market does not want to see the farmer happy or get proper price of his produce. The market will ensure that every passing month the cost of farming goes up, so that the farmer cannot get the full value of his crop. Governments openly support the market. The current BJP government is not different in that.
The challenge for the BJP in 2019 is not from the opposition; it is people who are posing difficulties for the party. The party has to explain why people should vote in their favour on the basis of work done in the last five years. Prime Minister is going to every state. He in fact should visit states more frequently and read the faces of the crowd present in his meetings. He should also take stock of empty chairs before concluding how much harder he has to work. There is no second opinion regarding the singularity of Modi’s being only politician who spends all his time in politics. Yet he fails to understand that economy is not on track and the way of governance he has adopted is more bureaucratic than political.
Furthermore, it baffles many as to why prime minister did not expand his cabinet to its capacity in four years. Is it because he has no capable people around him? And that is why the whole responsibility rests on some bureaucrats and few people. For example Piyush Goyal is minister who is holding three portfolios, and he is not alone having such distinction. There are many ministers who are holding more than one portfolio. It is because the BJP, ostensibly, lacks such people, and the prime minister did not nurture such leaders from the party who could take charge of Union Cabinet. This is the biggest irony of the BJP government that in five years the cabinet didn’t came into complete shape. That is why they are running affairs of the government with the help of bureaucracy, which has resulted in empty chairs in prime minister’s rallies.
Anyway it is good that Modi should visit every nook and corner of the country and check his popularity on the basis of enthusiasm and size of the crowd present in his rallies, and then point out his weaknesses. If he makes assessments based on the intelligence department report, then he will have the same results that Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh had once. They all fixed their election plank trusting the intelligence department report. They all tasted defeats wrapped in overconfidence.