Fresh takeaways from BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s first rally speech in the Capital on Sunday show a new strategy in the run-up as well as in the post-2014 poll scenario.
One, Modi intends to campaign convincingly hard to mobilise his voters to give a big mandate to the BJP and avoid a 1996-type situation when the saffron party emerged as the single-largest party but the Congress as well as other “secular” parties came together to deny the BJP a chance at power.
Modi asserted Sunday that governments can be formed by arithmetic, meaning that parliamentary numbers can be cobbled up to reach the magic 272+ in the 543-member Lok Sabha without any founding on issues of governance.
But, he underlined that true “chemistry” alone -- and not just the “keep BJP out” agenda -- among coalition partners would give birth to a decisive government, which can bring systemic changes that India needs badly now.
Perhaps, it could very well be the apprehension of Modi and BJP that polarised voters could end up creating a situation, which many of his political opponents feverishly hope for, leading to a hung Lok Sabha in 2014.
That could spur the race for a third front government in the making or a leader like Nitish Kumar being propped up by the Congress to keep out Modi, BJP insiders said.
Secondly, Modi repeatedly sounded out the present allies of the UPA government as well as future partners of the Congress to ponder whether they were ready to work under Rahul Gandhi, whom he repeatedly referred to him as ‘shehzaada’ (prince) and who, he thinks, is not concerned about niceties of Cabinet decision-making process or the collective responsibility of the ministers.
Modi was undoubtedly alluding to the discomfort of allies like NCP leader Praful Patel who has spoken out against the political drama following Rahul Gandhi’s public criticism of the UPA government’s ordinance, after it was okayed by the Cabinet and sent to the President for promulgation, to bail out convicted MPs and MLAs.
The Congress vice-president spoke out against the ordinance after the BJP went to Pranab Mukherjee to urge him not to sign it into law.
Another important takeaway was Modi’s rather modified criticism of and support for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the wake of Gandhi’s aggressive dissent on the ordinance when he was away on foreign soil.
Though his remarks of support and criticism were in the same breath, Modi may avoid too much slamming of Dr Singh in the months to come and focus on Gandhi, the dynastic politics of the Congress, whether it declares him or not as its PM face.