We have a little less than 18 months more to go for the next battle for Loksabha but one can already hear the war cry. The sound of the bugles are now echoing in the hallways of Delhi. But this election won’t be a contest between two national parties rather it will be a battle among various political ecosystems brewed by various ideologies and it won’t be a cakewalk for the BJP and Mr Narendra Modi.
In the 2014 general elections BJP+ did exceptionally well clean sweeping Rajasthan, Gujarat and gaining in UP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh. If one goes by this trend it can be stated that BJP+ will still do well in the northern India. With the recent win in Gujarat and Himachal election results BJP must be at ease. But there are still lots of worrisome issues for the BJP.
The Gujarat election once again proved that India and Indians can be easily divided on the basis of caste faultlines. The caste based trio of Hardik, Jignesh, and Alpesh are one of the main reasons behind BJP’s double digit bittersweet victory and probably they are the ones who snatched youth votes from the BJP. This Gujarat battle has given a lesson to the BJP and a new equation to the Congress – the equation of performing better. The variables in this new equation can be satisfied with three values.
First one is caste based division of the society. Gujarat election was highly polarized by the trio that worked with the Congress and BJP took a heavy dent because of it. So be ready to see a divisive narrative for the 2019 elections.
Second value is the new temple hopping strategy adopted by the Congress party to wash its anti-Hindu image while keeping the Muslim vote bank intact.
Third is to maximize the use of Lutyens ecosystem which Congress created during its regime. Many journalists and editors were given the prestigious Padma awards during 2004-2014 and now most of those journalist are Congress apologists. For instance the “neutral” Rajdeep and the “secular” Barkha Dutt received Padma Shri in 2008 and the “intellectual” Shekhar Gupta got Padma Bhushan in 2009. These are just a few examples from the many.
But it is not the only threat for Mr Modi and the BJP. It is going to be Modi vs all “secular” parties in 2019. So there is a high probability of a grand coalition with Rahul Gandhi as its leader and Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mamta Banerjee the Left parties as its commanders and the Lutyens mainstream digital media, biased Print media, and paid social media its troops. The ammunition of these troops will be caste based division, rising intolerance, fake news, Gau Rakshaks, “danger” to minorities, twisted facts, polarized contents, cooked up beef stories and any other catchy headline they can come up with.
There are severe challenges for the Modi-Shah duo in 2018 as there are 8 major elections. Karnataka is like oxygen for the Congress which is now on the death bed and that’s why polarization has already started via Tipu sultan Jayanti and Lingayat community issues. These 8 elections will set the tone for the 2019. Any loss to the BJP will be stated as the loss of face and loss of credibility for Mr Modi and any loss to Congress will be stated as a moral victory for Rahul Gandhi. If Amit Shah wants to win comfortably in 2019 he must find a counter-fire for the narrative built by the lutyens media. If propaganda spread by the “intellectuals” is not countered then it can change the mind-set of the people regarding the governance of Mr Modi and leadership of Mr Gandhi.
But these are not the only issues Mr Amit Shah should be wary off. Media Reports suggest that Congress has hired Cambridge Analytica which allegedly ran a pro Brexit campaign and is also a reason behind Mr Trump’s win. This Big data firm uses data mining and psychological profiling of the voters to get the better picture of the voters’ perception and change their mind-set. So it will be a different challenge for the BJP’s Chanyaka.
Apart from all these there brews a new concern for the BJP – the indifference or in some cases the anger of Right wingers. Social media supporters are angry with the BJP because of the several reasons. Whether it is the partnership of NITI Aayog with the NDTV or providing stage to Modi haters during Global Entrepreneurship Summit. All these challenges are ahead of Modi-Shah duo.
The Game of 2019 is afoot.