India In Election Mode 

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By holding a grand rally at Jammu on “historic martyrdom anniversary” of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the BJP president Amit Shah has made it clear that his party is already in election mode. So, in a sense, the BJP has once again tried to pre-empt the other parties. It is still eleven months before the election will be held but the saffron party has already taken guard. One thing already going to its favour is that the brand Modi remains still very much relevant, despite the fatigue that might have already set in among a significant section of the population. And the PM’s lingering honeymoon in power is an indication that the BJP can still very much pull it off. In Modi India has a leader rooted in a divisive ideology, doing an emotionally charged politics and offering economic development. His appeal rests on these very attributes which his followers don’t see as contradictions but part of one smooth whole. This is the zeitgeist that Modi has tapped into and so long as it lasts he will rule. Or may be the canny politician that he is, he may also recognize in advance the new public mood in the country and hone his politics to it too. As the past four years will underline, the PM has already been a phenomenal success in working the public opinion to the BJP’s favour. He continues to enjoy an immense mass following, albeit a part of it is contrived.  Soon also we will see the BJP pressing into service all the propaganda machinery to refresh its vaunted leader’s brand and spruce up his image. This will include a massive public relations blitzkrieg, which will try to hone him as a development messiah and a man who can single-handedly turn around the country.  

In its armoury for the polls, the BJP will include everything: development, a polarizing politics, Kashmir, Pakistan, Ram Mandir etc. The party has delegated the advocacy of Hindutva agenda to a group of rabble rousers in the party ranks.  While the PM Modi will go about talking about the development, the leaders from Amit Shah on down to those at the second rung would talk about the extreme  end of the party’s ideology. The blend of ideology and development agendas is expected to make party agreeable to the liberal and conservative constituencies across the country. But the country’s secular block, on the other hand, is yet to rise to the challenge. Long-anticipated unity of the opposition is yet to come through. In the days to come, things are likely to get politically more interesting. And it will be a tragedy if the opposition is found to be wanting in its response.

 

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