Gauging the public mood accurately is the hallmark of a good political party. And both the BJP and the Congress are not lacking in experience on this front. This time around, it does not take any great political acumen to see which way the wind is blowing. But strangely enough, neither the Congress nor the BJP seems to be mindful of the swift changes in public mood, the sort of changes that swept an unknown Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to power. So far, we have seen the Congress fumbling about making vague statements and hitting out at opponents. The BJP has fared no better with prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi lashing out at one and all, the latest being former environment and forests minister Jayanthi Natarajan.
It is not just the big two who seem out of sync with the public. The Samajwadi Party has been oblivious to the public revulsion over its leaders attending song and dance shows and its MLAs going on a foreign tour even as people die of the cold in riot relief camps. The Congress has neither showcased its past achievements, of which there are quite a few, nor outlined its vision if it were to retain power. It is acting as though it has given up the ghost though a new energy may just grip it with Rahul Gandhi expressing his willingness to take up any responsibility the party gives him. Partymen interpret this as an expression of intent to take up the mantle of the PM candidate.
It is also odd that a skilled administrator like Mr Modi has not been able to get beyond pointing out the faults of political opponents. People want to know what his vision for India will be. The most important issue is the economy and it is here that people are pinning their hopes on Mr Modi. However, he still has to tell people what he will do to turn around India’s dismal fortunes. Time is running out for both parties. Tripping up rivals may get you headlines but to get votes both need a far more positive and meaningful agenda.