Will the world change for Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi today ?
A very interesting day lies ahead of us. Though not likely to be as “momentous” as May 16th — two years ago when results of the Lok Sabha Poll were announced or the day in 2011 Trinamool stormed to power ending 32 years of uniterrupted “Leftist” rule in West Bengal, it is still going to be significant for the people of the states that went to poll.
Whatever be the outcome at the state level, I can bet a good part of the analyses today will be on — what the results mean for Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi in the run up to 2019.
There is absolutely no doubt that Narendra Modi’s appeal in the state elections have started yielding diminishing returns. But, that is not a new development. The decline started almost immediately after Modi assumed office — the first tell-tale sign was the clean sweep by AAP in the Delhi elections in which Modi had campaigned extensively. The message was clear — we voted you as Prime Minister, deliver first before laying your claim on the states. This was further reaffirmed — just in case any one missed it in the first instance — in the Bihar elections, which Modi had almost by default turned it into a personal referendum. Rahul Gandhi on the other hand is still continuing in the classical mode of the star movie actor’s son — who continues to deliver dud after dud at the box office hit despite repeated breaks under friendly producers.
These elections are different for Modi and BJP — as they don’t have too much at stake except, perhaps, in Assam. Whereas for Congress it will be a test of whether they can be considered even a viable and serious alliance partner anywhere in the country or be reduced in time to a national “nativist party”.
It is being argued by many that — in their quest to have a “Congress Mukt Bharat” (For example read: “Why BJP’s job actually became tougher” by Sreemoy Talukdar) BJP has in fact triggered the allignment of all anti-BJP forces. Though that may not be music to the ears for the hard-core BJP supporter and “Modi Bhakts”, it may not be such a bad development for national politics after all.
Those we genuinely committed the the idea of plurality in India cannot be serious about a two party system. The Congress lost its claim of an “inclusive” political aggregator the moment it turned from being a federal organisation to a family run enterprise.
In a country as diverse as India — as has been argued to death — it would be utopian to expect collaborative federalism between motley regional, religious, communal, caste and family interests. So, it has to be necessarily a model of competitive pluralism versus a mainstream (call it majoratarian if you will — but with massive caveats — as “Hindutva” by definition cannot be monolithic) Right-Wing alternative.