THE RIDE FOR MODI IS NOT EASY BUT THE POSITION OF OPPOSITION IS WORSE
Incumbency: A few decades back, voter fatigue was apparently visible in poll after poll that they used to replace the existing establishment with a strong opposition. There were occasions when an entirely new face took on the established dispensation and won the hearts of people. Emergence of Akalii Dal in Punjab, Dravidian parties in TN, TDP in AP , TRS in Telangana, TMC in WB, AAP in Delhi SP, BSP in UP etc., are few examples. But these parties did not and could not win a larger than life acceptance across nation like BJP or Congress. They inflamed the passions locally and won. They did not live up to the voters'' confidence and hence again gave way to other parties or lose coalitions of parties.
After few decades of "not this", "but that"" every five years, voters thought better. Literacy may be one of the reasons. They started to give the ruling parties two or at times three chances. One of the reasons might be that a change in the establishment every five years is certainly disturbing their normal life style as policies undergo a total U-turn. Instead a continuation in policies will help them stabilize with a certain direction. That is the reason Manmohan got a second chance despite a lot of negative perception against his style and his total surrender to Sonia coterie.
This change in trend is a definite positive trend for Narendra Modi. If voters follow the same pattern he is certain to win. And as there is not a single negative point for voters to refuse him, he is certain to win more comfortably than in 2014.But it is always too early to predict.
UPA vs NDA: There is no UPA literally speaking. Splinter groups of the earlier parties that were part of UPA are what remains of UPA. The main constituent Congress is directionless. Even where it was stronger earlier like North East, they suffered huge jolts. In UP it is reduced to a 2% vote, 2 seat entity.. In Uttarkhand it split but survived thanks to Courts. In HP it is led by a leader facing serious corruption charges. A listless outsider is leading its Government in Karnataka. In WB it is in fourth place. Soon it will be third in Kerala. In TN, if AIADMK splits BJP may forge ahead and Congress may vanish totally. In AP and Telangana strong local parties are not allowing Congress even to sprout again. The seeds dried up. BJP, playing its cards well, is keeping up its respectable allies .In Odisha, Congress is nowhere. BJP/BJD, though opponents are keeping Congress deep in an abyss. In all BJP ruled states incumbency is not there and there is no leader or issue for Congress. In Punjab it has a chance but Modi's Pak policy and demonetization effects are keeping it on back foot.
In contrast NDA is a cohesive unit. Additionally non NDA parties like TRS, BJD, TDP, AIADMK etc., are adding to its strength. NCP, SP, BSP are nowhere. The silent support of Nitish is keeping other Bihar parties on tenterhooks. It is hoped that NDA will remain intact and more support will be forthcoming.. Despite best efforts, no opposition group was able to allege corruption by any BJP/NDA leader. This gave a great relief to the nation that was mired in corruption for decades. It is like a lake desilted and mud was removed or in Hyderabad terms like cleaning up Hussain Sagar lake. For Modi, this is the number one positive point.
Perceived opposition unity: The one danger that lurks in the air that might endanger the re-election of Modi is the perceived opposition unity under one strong leader as was attempted in Bihar. In Bihar Nitish Kumar was a very strong and honest leader who is liked by the population. So, even though he compromised his honesty for CM post or just to prove a point that he is a fit leader to oppose Modi, he won the polls handsomely. But then, he already started regretting his decision, though overtly he says it is no. for having entered into an alliance with Lalu.
Repeating Bihar experiment at national level may not so easy. Already there are many leaders who think they are fit to lead the nation better than Modi or any other contender. For example take Arvind Kejriwal. He thinks if he coughs, nation will cough up PM post. Or for that matter take Rahul Gandhi. He thinks if he just talks there will be earth quake and all the votes polled to Modi would be his by the tremors caused thereby. He thinks, once he talks everything turns topsy turvy. Then take Mamata. She thinks that when she could dislodge Left then why she could not do the same with the Right. But Left has an injured left shoulder and squint left eye and does have nothing to support on the right side. But today NDA is "SAHSRAKSHA" , "SAHASRA BAHU" ( It has thousand eyes and thousand shoulders like Lord Vishnu. Her street antics will never work with Modi. We have seen these three idiots (A reference to the picture name only) in their fight on Modi on Demonetization. Any good leader would have kept the NDA on the defensive. But these guys gave them a chance to upend their attack.
Leaders like Pawar, Advani, Yashwath, Mulayam etc,, nurtured the ambition of being "EK DIN KA SULTAN" s. We know their fate. The only honest, capable, known administrator, tough leader, a statesman and a mass leader though not a very good orator is Nitish Kumar. His appeal at national level is limited. In many states his qualities are not known. Modi was different.. He built up his image gradually. "He publicized "VIBRANT GUJARAT" and made himself known. And added to that, Media and opposition singing hatred of Modi made him a house-hold name even before he was thought of as PM candidate. If Media and opposition adopt the same tactic of attacking Nitish it will backfire. To give him a larger than life image as honest, Lalu is sleeping like a dagger in his bed. So opposition uniting under him are remote. And added to all this, he is also known haughty.
For argument's sake even if the opposition unites there will be internecine wars for supremacy and it may not take as much time as Janata Party to survive.. And we can just imagine the scenario.
Contrary to this NDA is a cohesive unit. Moreover, for their own survival parties like BJD, TDP, TRS, AIADMK, NCP and other fringe parties will support NDA and Modi. So here, the million dollar question remains unanswered.
In the next column, we shall discuss the ground level results of the decisions of Modi Government. Half way through, it is not too early to make a review.