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HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014

Modi pushes for big ideas to eclipse rise of AAP

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 21, 2014
First Published: 00:50 IST(21/1/2014) | Last Updated: 01:42 IST(21/1/2014)

The 2014 elections are not about change of government but a fresh ray of hope for a billion Indians, declared Narendra Modi as he wrapped up the BJP national council meeting here on Sunday in a forceful bid to reinvigorate and bring the momentum back to his campaign as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

In doing so, he ensured his OBC background acted as a political card against the Congress’ reluctance to project Rahul Gandhi as its PM candidate.

That Modi chose to unveil his ideas of governance just as the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi was getting flak for trying to rewrite the rules of almost everything was no coincidence. As a fresh debate began whether activism can replace actual governance, Modi sought to answer his critics who questioned his campaign for lacking ideas about what he proposes to do rather than delivering the familiar barbs at the Congress-led UPA.

When the BJP chose Modi to lead the 2014 campaign as its PM candidate four months ago, it was in the hope that he would successfully appeal to an aspirational India, cutting across all sections of the people. 

Modi too believed that an aspirational India demands more opportunities than doles, “burdened” by anxieties about poverty, the economic slowdown, job insecurity and security for women and children and lack of choices. Even as he went about addressing rallies, the BJP seemed happy about the crowds he drew and the media attention he got. 

But by the time elections in four states got over and the BJP returned to power in MP and Chhattisgarh and won a handsome mandate in Rajasthan, it was not Modi or the BJP chief ministers who hogged prime time on TV news channels.

The “hero” was Arvind Kejriwal, the anti-corruption campaigner and champion of people’s rights whose stunning electoral success found analysts questioning Modi’s ‘magic’ and the BJP wondering how its dream run was upset by a rookie party in Delhi.

After a month of brainstorming, top BJP leaders decided on a string of ideas to restore momentum to Modi’s campaign even if the media’s attention proves difficult to retrieve. As BJP leader Arun Jaitley summed up the assessment: the Congress is being squeezed out of the LS contest, AAP may be making its presence felt but Modi is still miles ahead for PMship.

Therefore, the challenge before the BJP is to consolidate its gains with the effective use of its cadres and organisation. The party’s agenda must be specific, clear and comprise of big ideas. The big ideas have an ability to eclipse a new party which has a narrow focus only on petty corruption, Jaitley said.

The unveiling of Modi’s actionable ideas for the next government if the BJP comes to power was an exercise in that direction, BJP insiders said.

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