Even as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi makes plans to sweep the coming assembly elections, many Sangh Parivar outfits, like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, threaten to become effective spoilers and reduce the BJP tally to 90-95 seats effectively scuppering his plan to become prime minister of India.
There are around 40 seats where BJP has won with margin of less than 5,000 votes in the last assembly elections.
The Gujarat Parivartan Party led by former chief minister Keshubhai Patel which is a political proxy for these anti-Modi groups, will eat into these small margins ensuring defeat for BJP and victory for Congress.
But can it really happen this way?
Modi's direct dialing with voters has remained as strong as ever; his charisma undiminished. In contrast, for all the media hype, Keshubhai comes across as a bumbling grandpa who should be better off at home.
This is a significant factor when below-30 age group forms the largest force among the voters. Even the caste factor cannot bridge this divide.
File photo of Narendra Modi.
Another revealing factor is that anyone with a decade or two still left in politics has chosen to go back to Modi: recently former health minister Nalin Bhatt returned to BJP with a lame explanation that he had misunderstood Modi! Similarly former MP Kanaksinh Mangrola returned after a long time in wilderness. During the next two months we shall see many such returnees.
In effect, the fight against Modi by Sangh Parivar outfits has petered out into an uncertain grandpa-led charge, inspiring low public confidence. The Gujarat Parivartan Party rally in Surendranagar had a very poor response, even though it has a strong Leva Patidar presence, the community supposedly backing Keshubhai.
A revealing picture used by a local daily showed Keshubhai Patel and former CM Suresh Mehta seated on high backed chairs--but their postures looked slumped as if in a wheel-chair!
If the political proxy is such a dud, can the anti-Modi Sangh Parivar outfits do damage in other ways? Their hostility did not stop Modi from scoring land-slide victories in municipal and panchayat elections.
Before these elections smug VHP leader had mockingly told me: "Who will bring out the voters, if we do not go house to house?" Well, they came out on their own!
Modi has systematically undermined their resource base( preventing donors) and credibility( by establishing their incapacity to deliver). Consequently their members have been reduced greatly in number. The morale is very low.
Another interesting thing is that for ordinary members of these organizations there is no anti-Modi feeling. You detect hostility the higher up you go!!! A Kisan Sangh office bearer and a Kisan are not on the same page so far as Modi is concerned.
However, Modi would have faced a hard time, if instead of Keshubhai Patel, Dr Pravin Togadia, international executive chairman of VHP, would have been leading Gujarat Parivartan Party.
With as strong an appeal as Modi among the Hindu voters, Gujarat Parivartan Party under Togadia would have ensured a pyrrhic victory for Modi, through a successful spoiler's game. But leaving it to the gradpas has ensured that it will be Modi all the way.
The writer is a political analyst based in Ahmedabad. The views expressed are personal