BJP supporters should be cheering Mamata’s Brigade Rally, where she presented herself as the alternative to Modi.
BJP supporters should stop worrying about regional parties. It is as simple as that. Let me explain why.
Anyone remember 2013-14? For a while between Dec 2013 and Feb 2014, after AAP (sort of) won in Delhi, I would say BJP supporters were much more worried about Arvind Kejriwal. I think most of us would remember that directly. Remember how Modi disappeared almost completely from the news cycle? I believe in the last 3 weeks of December 2013, there was just ONE day when Modi was among the headlines : the day when the courts finally nailed all the lies of 2002 and dismissed all allegations against him.
Except for that one day, Kejriwal ruled the airwaves. So complete was his domination that even Modi seemed affected by it. At a rally in Goa (early Jan 2014?) he expressed his pain, asking people if they wanted a PM who is on TV only and nowhere else. Incidentally, that rally was attended by a crowd that comprised nearly (more than?) half of all people of voting age in Goa.
Even after his humiliation in 2014, Kejriwal kept driving BJP supporters nuts. For a long time, his onlinepresence far exceeded that of Congress which was still a beginner in the social media game. When BJP supporters took the field on SM, they were battling with AAP, not Congress.
It is only in 2017, after AAP’s shattering defeat in Punjab, that the ghost of AAP was laid to rest. At that time, I guess BJP supporters … at least some of them … celebrated the Congress win in Punjab.
Today, looking back, BJPians can see AAP for what it always was: a tiny regional party with hardly any potential outside one state. All that warring, all those potshots at AAP on social media, it was all for nothing. BJP supporters were fighting a force that was never any match for them.
Let me repeat. Regional parties barely matter. The only threat to BJP is Congress. Nobody else. Others can create a ripple here and there, but only Congress has the staying power to defeat BJP.
Other than BJP, the Congress is the only party that can win 100 Lok Sabha seats. It doesn’t matter how incompetent Rahul is… Congress is the only viable alternative to BJP from Gujarat to Chhattisgarh and from Maharashtra all the way up to Haryana and Uttarakhand and Himachal.
And don’t forget to add up all the “deep assets” that Congress has within the media and intellectual ecosystem. And all its global contacts.
Therefore, Mamata’s massive Brigade rally from Kolkata yesterday is a huge gain for BJP. Anything that weakens the Congress’ hand is a gain for BJP.
Mamata presented herself as the pivot of an anti-Modi political formation. Her rally was much more about sending a message to the Congress, not to the BJP. And a severely weakened Congress has been happy to play along.
Mallikarjun Kharge is the leader of the Congress on the floor of Lok Sabha (No, he is not leader of opposition, unlike what media often tries to say). By sending him to the rally, Congress has sent a signal that they are willing to work under her. Even more with Rahul Gandhi’s fawning, servile letter to Mamata Banerjee which has been much publicized.
In Uttar Pradesh, Congress is now officially willing to become a 2 seat party. Remember that Congress got 10 seats there in 2004. So that is down 8 seats already. In Bengal they are willing to go down to 0. In 2004, the Congress had won 6 seats in Bengal. So that’s down another 6. Don’t even get me started about (undivided) Andhra Pradesh and Delhi, where Congress is down nearly 40 seats compared to 2004.
BJP supporters have been worrying about a 2004 like result every day since 2014. Heck, the Congress has already given up on a 2004 like result. They are now aiming for a 1996 like result!
Because Rahul is willing to work under almost anybody. For a while, it seemed he would even work under Kanhaiya Kumar. To be fair, it seems Rahul has zero illusions about his actual skill level. You have to give him that.
What happens when you enter an electoral contest hoping to “win” 2nd place and then support the 3rd or 4th place winner? Or any contest for that matter. You generally do even worse.
Mamata’s contempt for Rahul is quite well known. And Rahul has now endorsed that contempt in a servile open letter to her 🙂 Good.
Last month, when BJP lost in 3 states, the constant refrain among BJP supporters was that “Rahul is no more a Pappu”. There was a realization that the mockery and ridicule directed at Rahul has run its course, the jokes have gotten old. That doing the same old thing over and over again is beginning to help Rahul, getting him sympathy rather than scorn.
The media has been publishing “Rahul coming of age” stories every few weeks for the last 15 years. They saw the opportunity and jumped at it, hitting us with saturation level Rahul coverage. With shoulders drooping in the BJP camp, it was the perfect moment for them.
The BJP strategy needed a reboot. They needed a target other than Rahul. The BJP needed to take Rahul out of the conversation.
And Saturday’s Brigade Rally has given Modi that exact opportunity. Now that Mamata has officially presented herself as the alternative to Modi and effectively won endorsements all across the anti-Modi spectrum, the timing is right.
You can see that PM Modi realizes this too.
Modi normally does not react directly to what the Opposition is saying. You will see that while Rahul has been crying himself hoarse over Rafale, the PM has not spoken a single word so far. He wasn’t even present in Parliament when the debate happened earlier this month.
The Prime Minister knows: anything he says on Rafale will only give oxygen to the nonsensical Rafale story.
But look at him yesterday : Modi reacts within minutes to Mamata’s Brigade Rally. Take that! He wants people to talk more about that rally, not less. He wants people to take Mamata Banerjee seriously.
Like I said, PM Modi needed a new opponent. An opponent who would be totally discredited in the eyes of the public. Who would stand no chance against him.
In 2014, Rahul was that opponent. Modi went to places where Congress hardly mattered and would keep hammering away at Rahul. Because he knew the whole nation agreed with him that Modi is better than Rahul.
They probably still do, but people believe they already decided that debate in 2014. You can’t run the same campaign twice.
In 2019, the ramshackle Mahagathbandhan can be Modi’s “enemy of choice”. Because Modi vs unstable coalition is a debate that he will win easily. Who will seriously tell you that they want a Central Government that is always on ventilator support? I see that H D Kumaraswamy went to the Kolkata rally yesterday. He probably didn’t know if he would still be Karnataka CM by the time he returned to Bengaluru. How many people want that to happen with India’s next Prime Minister? Probably nobody is fine with that, outside some super loyal caste based voters.
Real enemies cooperate 🙂 PM Modi needs a new opponent and Mamata Banerjee needs to keep raising her profile. In 2014, BJP supporters kept asking other people if they want Rahul. Everyone shuddered in pure horror and said NO. In 2019, BJP supporters have to ask people if they want the horror show from Brigade Ground in Kolkata to take the reins in Delhi. The result will be the same.