Gujarat & Goal 2024: Emotions To Surpass Economy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi magic spells witha record victory of 156 Gujarat seats for the BJP as he toils hard withUnion Home Minister Amit Shah. From now on it may be an intense Hindu makeover, surpassing the economy, to continue the spree till 2024 Lok Sabha election.

The party prefers to go beyond economics and politics. It is setting the agenda for an open debate before the poll process begins in February 2023. The BJP starts methodical work to pave the pitch for the national elections to be preceded by elections to nine State assemblies and four with the Lok Sabha.

The economic rhetoric of five trillion would remain there as it was also in Gujarat for a State GDP of one trillion, though it could not create the mood that the party may have liked. That led its leaders to walk the extra mile — 50 km and 10 km patch for the astounding victory. The magic attraction of Modi finally did the trick as also party’s capability to muster over 16 lakh people at the polling stations in a jiffy in the second phase on December 5. The party’s financial and manpower strength virtually wiped out the opposition parties, particularly the Congress and the AAP.

An issueless poll makes the BJP’sjob tougher as the Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi MCD elections testify. The big election of 2024 once again may not be contested on an economic blueprint as it is not easy to make it a reality in an inflation and recession-hit world economy torn by wars, sanctions, low or little growth and millions jobless. India may be doing better with over 6 percent growth, but it may not be enough to lure voters or provide work to the needy.

The G20 presidentship would be utilised to penetrate 50 venues in States with 200 meets starting from Jammu &Kashmir. But recreating a Gujarat phenomenon across the country though not impossible,will have a cost on the party cadre and leaders. It did not work in Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. The BJP proceeds with a cafeteria approach of campaigning. It would be different in each of the nine States in 2023: in North East– Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura; South — Karnataka, Telangana; Centre — Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and West – Rajasthan. Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim are likely to go to polls with the Lok Sabha elections in April 2024.

The controversies, BJP poll managers know, are vote catchers. It may again gamble on polarisation, population or the divide with unique packs in each State.It has almost now centred on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) to create a waive across the country. The discussion on the issue of personal laws touches almost all Indians. That gives an opportunity to woo communities and widen the divide.

A small instance with larger import was witnessed in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, December 9, with introduction of a private member’s bill by BJP MP, Kirodi Lal Meena. He demanded a panel to prepare and implement the UCC. It divides the House. Expectedly the Congress, TMC, DMK, CPI-M, CPI, IUML, MDMK, Samajwadi Party and RJD lodged strong protests amid uproar. Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar called for division and the motion was cleared with 63 votes in favour and 23 against. The controversy officially begins.

Yes, notwithstanding controversies, the UCC has become the next major agenda and vote drawer. The adage that the BJP is always in campaign mode becomes a reality. It takes precedence over the Union Budget preparations, allocations or populist moves that a government puts on the agenda. Each State is likely to have different allocations for high sounding programmes for appeal to the local populace. Bullet train, Vande Bharat trains, small airports and similar feats would be on the popular agenda. The UCC would be garnished with the population control policy for sharpening the campaign.

If the BJP concentrates on scrapping the junking of ten-year-new cars, startedby UPA-Congress, in all the States, it would touch the heart of several crore people and families. It can be a game changer as Switzerland has taken the first step to do away with improper tech electricity guzzler electric vehicles (EV). Anger simmering against the forced junking of cars and tractors is increasingly being witnessed among kisans of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Punjab and several others.

It is being touted as a move of the automobile lobby to boost sales hit by low sales during Covid-19 and even before. The authorisation of major car makers to lift the ten-year cars is causing commotion and discontent even among the party workers. Prime Minister Modi might move differently than Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, a vocal supporter of car junking.

And there may or may not be freebies, the free food dole is likely to get an extension till the Lok Sabha polls along with many other programmes for the tribals, and disadvantaged groups. The programme is likely to be extended to May 2024, in phases.The minorities are to be given special favour in allotments of PM Avas Yojana houses, jobs in EWS quota, allocations to religious schools, madrasas and some other programmes. It is interesting to note that backward minority communities are gradually being attracted to the Hindu party. The subtle campaigning among minority groups of different religions by RSS leader Indresh Kumar has caught their fancy.

The minority denominated constituencies in the North East, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka would be approached by the party cadre for the next one year religiously to lure them to vote for the BJP. The party is in touch with different churches. Various programmes tailored for each of the States is aimed at swinging the mood for the saffron party. The approach, packaging and methods are special to each State concentrating on welfare and the popular imaging.

Additionally, local religious icons too would be projected in many ways. In Arunachal Pradesh, Donyi-Polo – Sun-Moon temple is getting keen attention. This following Modi opening the Donyi-Polo airport sometime back. Nagaland is varied and so are other States in the region and according to a RSS leader the sangh has been catering to NE tribals groups for past decades.

The novel campaign plank has been designed to surpass the economic issues and capture the electorate’s imagination. The clear aim being to win the elections with a mix of emotions, connect and divide and to perpetuate its rule till 2047 or the centenary of Independence. —INFA


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Shivaji Sarkar

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