Rahul Gandhi just gave BJP the best campaigning tool it could hope for

We are more or less one year away from the General elections unless the elections are advanced. More importantly, we have seen 4 years of Modi Raj. A lot has happened over these 4 years and the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be aware of this, in spite of the recent political triumphs in various states.

Modi came on the scenes in late 2013 as the ultimate beacon of hope for a nation which was starving for leadership. 10 years of Manmohan Singh had led to a huge vacuum, which seemed to be tailor-made for Modi. He made all the right noises, infusing tremendous hope. Each section of the society expected various things from him. The opposition would like to make 2019 a battle between Modi of pre-2014 vs Modi today.

In that battle, Modi of pre-2014 will win all hands down. Call it anti-incumbency, or the failure to live up to humongous expectations: The Modi of 2019 has some catching up to do.

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Business people expected the Gujarati Modi to improve ease of doing business in India. Modi achieved that, but do you think moves such as GST and Demonetisation have helped those who were doing the “Indian” model of business i.e. mostly under the rug? Definitely not.

The common man is always expecting a reduction in tax rates. He is not really concerned about reducing fiscal deficit, lower WPI inflation rates, slower depreciation of the rupee etc. He just wants to see the Income Tax rates become lower and lower. The latest budget did not offer as much as was expected, given it was an election year.

On the cultural aspect, there have been complaints from the cultural “Core Hindu” that the Modi government has not acted much upon major issues relevant to Hindus such as the anti-Hindi Right to Education Act, or the warped history which is being taught to our children.

All these core BJP voters and others may go into 2019 wondering whether they got what they hoped for. Some of them may persist with Modi and BJP, but some others may decide to “send a message”.

To send a message, these voters may go to the next best party which can defeat BJP. Although Congress is mostly wiped out across the country, the fact remains, there is no other party with a pan India presence which can be even considered to be a force which could theoretically upset the BJP’s cart.

While many fingers may inch towards the symbol of the Hand, the Congress President Rahul Gandhi may have just given BJP a blessing in disguise. In a recent media interaction, Rahul Gandhi is reported to have said this, in response to a question about his ambitions to become the Prime Minister:

If the Congress party is the biggest party, yes (I will be the Prime Minister)

There is a world of a difference between any Congress leader who is fairly competent, becoming the Prime Minister, and prince in waiting, forever “growing up”, king of unintended satire, master of deceit, Rahul Gandhi becoming the Prime Minister.

Rahul Gandhi’s image (in spite of massive rebuilding exercise) is still that of the dynastic scion, who has never held a serious job in his entire life, who has reached a position in politics only because of his family. There is virtually no merit attached to Rahul Gandhi. On the other hand, he can be credited with far too many faux pas and brain-fades.

Every-time a voter is found sitting on the fence, contemplating whether Modi should get his vote, or the next best alternative, all BJP has to do is show Rahul Gandhi’s past exploits, and paint a picture in the voter’s mind, as to how he would be as a Prime Minister, given his track record. Only a Congress sycophant would not flinch at that visualisation.

In fact, the BJP can go one step ahead. While Rahul Gandhi has declared himself as the Prime Minister only if Congress is the biggest party, one cannot rule out the possibility of him being a compromise candidate of the entire opposition, even if Congress falls behind. In short, Rahul Gandhi has confirmed to the country, that the battle is Modi vs Rahul.

Even though Modi 2019 may lose vs Modi 2013, he will win against Rahul 2019 hands down. Rahul Gandhi has virtually challenged Modi to the ring, Modi just needs to oblige.

a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

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