This time, to win, Congress needs to set the narrative and agenda first for these assembly elections

The stage is set for the penultimate test of both Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). The people’s verdict on five upcoming elections of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana will set the agenda for 2019 general elections and perhaps the last chance to know what will work for them respectively.

Source: Jansatta

Politicians have been trying his old successful strategy of keeping the common voters busy in newly escalated Gotra issue, the old classic Ram Mandir and the evergreen Hindutva with a large pot of Hindu-Muslim. Every time, a group of state go into polls; a common agenda or electoral campaign run relentlessly and uniformly throughout different states and regions in an effective manner. It works for them as well. Remember how the Shamshaan-Kabristaan being floated during Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in 2017. A lot was there to criticize then incumbent Akhilesh Yadav’s government. Though, there was a myriad of factors BJP can use its popular policies at the centre like rural electrification, triple talaq etc. to convince the voters. But, that Shamshaan-Kabristaan has given BJP an edge over the newly formed coalition between two boys of UP. And see, they have got the results and formed a government with an absolute majority that UP has not witnessed in recent decades.

Mai Hoon Vikaas, Mai Hoon Gujarat (I am development, I am Gujarat)

These poll advertisements attract voters and change the entire narrative of the election. BJP used Mai Hoon Vikaas, Mai Hoon Gujarat on a large scale across Gujarat in a response to Vikas Pagal Ho Gaya Hai (Development has gone mad). The effect was amplified when a Gujarat-born, unarguably, charismatic orator Narendra Modi used this line in their election speeches. Gujarat is more than a state and has been the centre of attention since 2013. Along with Gujarat, Karnataka and Punjab also went into polls. with the same development. Those elections were about development, Congress was alleging that there were no signs of development in rural areas and it a hollow one. As I quoted earlier, there will always remain the successful communal appease, appeasement and ‘Jumlas’ of popular policies.

Congress always fail to set the narrative and agenda first

Congress pick some issue but they backfired for them. Congress has failed to create convert issues of demonetisation, black money and Goods and Services Tax (GST) into a big election issue. This article talked about BJP in a big picture, that’s the whole point here. Every year, elections by elections, it is the BJP who set the agenda and narrative for the elections, Congress has never been able to do it which is a major reason for its failures. Rahul Gandhi’s recent temple spree would also not going to help, they are running away from their secular image in a quest to consolidate Hindu votes.

What do these elections mean for BJP?

5 years before in 2013, 5 states Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Delhi. Riding on a ‘Vikas ki Ganga‘ and a Modi wave (that later converted into a tsunami), BJP won MP, Rajasthan, and Chattisgarh by a huge majority. These elections made BJP believe that development will work during 2014 Lok Sabha polls. After this clean sweep by BJP, it was predicted with data analysis and sentiment that Modi will swear an oath for the post of Prime Minister. A clean sweep or anyway BJP is able to form the government in these states, it will boost their campaign for 2019. Except Rajasthan, both in MP and Chhatisgarh, BJP is ruling for more than a decade. Will it able to repeat the miracle of Gujarat again in these states?

In the last 4 years, localised issues have diminished and the elections are now being fought on national issues even in state elections. Rahul Gandhi may remain Congress President for a long time from here but this is nothing less than a litmus test. If he fails here, the road for 2019 afterwards will become tougher. Modi has nothing left to prove but Rahul Gandhi is yet to begin. Congress has always played the second move; it is his time to be on the driver’s seat eyeing next LS polls. Whether it is Rafale Deal, rising farmers suicides, increasing communalism, derailing economy or unemployment, Rahul Gandhi needs to set the agenda first than reaching out to different parties to be in ‘Mahagathbandhan.’

PS: Agenda or a campaign wins elections. Rahul’s ‘Chaukidar Ki Chor Hai’ jibe should be shout out louder than what ‘Achhe Din Aane Wale Hai’ sounded in 2014.

Originally published at saurabhkverma.wordpress.com on December 5, 2018.