Is Congress falling in Modi’s trap?
By taking Narendra Modi head on, the Congress seems to believe that it was not only exposing the controversial Gujarat Chief Minister but was simultaneously also consolidating its own position among the minorities in particular.
Somehow, it appears to me that Modi wants Congress to precisely react in this manner. His politics has essentially been divisive and his supporters are of the view that the process of polarization of voters has begun especially on seeing the Congress reaction.
What has started happening is that instead of being pro active in setting the political agenda for the country, the Grand Old Party is in the reactive mode and is by default allowing Modi to occupy the talking space.
It is understandable that many would feel that Modi has peaked very early and may find it difficult to sustain his campaign. But that is perhaps not what the BJP’s Chief of the Campaign Committee is thinking. He in fact wants to catch the attention of the people even in areas where the BJP has negligible presence. The Congress by its strong rebuttals and reactions is precisely helping him do that.
Modi has been telling his supporters that the next elections will see the BJP cross the 200 mark and the party could even reach over 225 seats. This sounds unbelievable given that the BJP normally contests only 290 to 300 seats and to have a success rate, which is so high, appears impossible.
He has also been telling his colleagues that it will not be the BJP that will fight the next polls but it will be “Modi’’ who will be the candidate on each of the seats the Saffron brigade contests.
Much to the discomfort of many in his own party, Modi is raking up the Hindutva agenda and naturally the RSS seems very happy with it. In the RSS, there has always been a powerful lobby that wants the BJP to be strong and feels that only a strong BJP could attract allies.
This is contrary to what L.K.Advani and his types believe in. They want to carry every one with them and are of the opinion that a moderate image is the key to success. But Modi is aiming to make the Hindutva as the mainstay of the party’s agenda with the hope that the Congress would pitch in for the minorities and thus bear the political consequences.
The entire Modi campaign so far has led to certain conclusions on the basis of various interpretations by political leaders regarding his comments.
He is a seasoned campaigner and is thus using phrases and words that are provocative but are within permissible legal limits. It is the interpretations, which are irritating his opponents. But the Gujarat CM and his party do not seem to care.
The frontal attack on him by both the Congress chief spokesperson Ajay Maken and Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari may have pleased some in their party and the political class. But these comments have also helped Modi’s cause and allowed him to be the person who is setting the agenda.
The Congress was always a secular party and does not need to reiterate its commitment to secularism. But by overdoing things, it is reinforcing the impression that it had tilted from its neutral position towards the minorities.
And in case it goes ahead and grants statehood to Telangana ignoring security considerations of the country, the party’s standing may further suffer a setback in the rest of the country and thus help Modi and the BJP by default.
Modi has arrived on the Centre stage and the Congress is obviously allowing him to assume a bigger image by reacting to the interpretations of some of his comments and statements. Instead it should put forward its own achievements and plans.
Otherwise, Modi is having the last laugh, the debate of secularism vs Communalism not withstanding.