It’s a bunch of regional leaders. Some of them are not even that. They are sub-regional leaders at best and some of them became a spent force a long time ago. Some of them are not leaders at all, like Javed Akhtar and bring with them only 5-6 votes, likely those of their family and close friends. It is difficult not to mock. And when you see Yashwant Sinha at the head of them, it is almost an invitation to do so.
But for reasons of safety, it is best for the BJP to take every potential threat for 2024 seriously.
Of late, the BJP has developed a distressing habit of elections slipping out of their grasp. I am not actually talking about Bengal. The TMC won the state by a landslide. I am talking about Maharashtra or Jharkhand. And in 2018, it was Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Just a handful of votes here and there, such as keeping AJSU as an ally in Jharkhand, would have won them the election. I have written about this phenomenon before, of the BJP losing the art of “winning small.”
This is one sign of inflated ego. With Modi winning landslide majorities, the BJP and its supporters have become used to thinking in terms of big victories. In 2019, I think the BJP won over 50% of the vote in over half of India’s states. Yes, that is huge. But that cannot happen every time. Either you are in power or you are not. Ultimately, it does not make that much of a difference if you are in power with 3/4 majority or you have just 1 seat above the majority mark. Look at the Congress enjoying power in Maharashtra, acting like there was a Sonia Gandhi wave there. The people may have voted them down to the 4th position. But as much as it may bother the BJP to admit, they are powerless and miserable in Maharashtra with 100+ MLAs. Yes, the BJP is the only party since 1991 to win 100+ seats in Maharashtra, but who cares? See who is chilling out in Mantralaya…
There is still a lot of time to go before 2024, obviously. The BJP lost a lot of political capital in April-May during the second wave of Covid. But as I had guessed, they can gain a lot of it back from rapid vaccinations, which is happening now. I wrote yesterday about how BJP had the most perfect day in a long time. After being dumbfounded by the magnitude of the vaccinations on June 21, Congress made a wrong move getting its surrogates to chip away with relentless negativity. How could they not realize that 75 lakh vaccinations a day will become common by next month? And soon enough, it will be 1 crore plus each day.
Today they are trying to “debunk” 86 lakh vaccinations on one day. Saying look it went down to 50 lakh the next day. Two weeks later, they will “debunk” 1 crore vaccinations on one day, saying it went down to 75 lakh the next day. This is a losing battle. The only thing they can do is make themselves look more and more ridiculous.
But after experiences in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and so many states, the BJP should not take anyone lightly. Yes, I am at a loss to imagine who would vote for a coalition government of Sharad Pawar, Yashwant Sinha and Javed Akhtar. But what do I know? If the political developments since 2018 have proved anything, it is that you can’t take anything or anybody for granted.
Instead of mocking the so called “Rashtra Manch” the BJP needs to take them on aggressively. They need to make people wonder if they really want a government of Sharad Pawar, Yashwant Sinha and Javed Akhtar. Let Mamata Banerjee be the Prime Ministerial candidate. In fact, Didi’s ambitions can give wings to BJP in Bengal. If Mamata Banerjee goes out on a limb chasing her PM dreams for the next three years, she will have to leave day to day command of Bengal in the hands of the nephew. That’s when the mistakes are going to come.