Come 16 May, the BJP under the leadership of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in all likelihood will form India's next government. According to the Lokniti-IBN national pre-poll survey, while the BJP is poised to win a record number of seats, the Congress on the contrary may face the worst ever electoral defeat since its inception.
"The BJP's organisational structure is far better than that of the Congress. It has good chief ministers, an expanding set of energised cadres and an aggressive leader leading from the front. It now clearly looks like the NDA government under Modi will become a reality," author and historian Ramachandra Guha told CNN-IBN during a panel discussion.
The predicted victory for the BJP has not come overnight. For over a year, it went through a whole process of meticulous planning, stemming out dissidence, forging strategic alliances, always upping the ante against the ruling party and taking care of weak spots all over the country that may affect the party's performance. The party ensured that Modi's campaign speeches left out contentious issues such as the 2002 Gujarat riots and the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
"The 2002 violence is a political issue and the party did right by not raking it up. Modi started his campaign by attacking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and slowly shifted it to Rahul Gandhi," said The Week's chief of bureau, R Prasannan.
National Affairs Editor of The Telegraph Manini Chatterjee was of the view that the media played a crucial role for Modi.
"The media played a huge role in buiding a Modi hype. But it will be interesting to see if this would translate into votes although I have a feeling it would. The spectacular expansion of the media since the 2009 polls have benefited Modi immensely," Chatterjee said. Agreeing with her, author and historian Ramachandra Guha said adding a caveat, "The media has played an incremental role but in a complex democracy media cannot manufacture consent."
What Modi smartly figured out is that the country doesn't want a new face, it sought a new idea. By catching the right nerve, particularly of the youth, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate made sure that his support base is arguably even more than former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"Modi attached importance to social media as early as the Gujarat Assembly elections in 2012 to reach out to the youth. He captured the imaginations of the youths on two fronts -- energy and the passion for something new. In a way, he transferred the cricketing energy of the nation into the political field. Modi is a pugnacious campaigner and people the raw aggression. When there is a contest people like combativeness," said columnist Swapan Dasgupta. "There are two aspects of Modi -- one is campaigner Modi and the other governance Modi. The first Modi is ruthless on his competitors and the second one is a master in governance. In this campaign, the open invocation to primordial sentiments of the Hindus have not been used. The figures in the survey indicate that Modi's inclusiveness is all-pervading," he said.
Sociologist Dipankar Gupta also agreed primarily with Dasgupta. "The youths vote for young ideas and not young people. Rahul Gandhi is old wine in new bottle." Gupta said.
Guha felt that the lack of strong opponents also made Modi stronger.
"If Modi has a certain kind of energy Rahul has no energy at all. Modi has not run a divisive campaign at an ideological level. He never outlined a concrete programme and he had never taken a tough interview. His campaign is also not a visionary one," the historian said while elucidating on the strengths of the BJP prime ministerial candidate. "Indians don't like an authoritarian leader but they also do not like a spineless and silent leader," he said in an obvious reference to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
While the rise of Modi and along with him the BJP is a story in itself, the other side of the story is the apparent fall of the Congress. The failure of the Congress will also question the dominance of the Gandhi family in the party.
"The charisma of the family is on the decline. No member of the Congress family can revive the party into preeminence. Even Priyanka Gandhi has the baggage of her husband (Robert Vadra). India has largely realised that a single family cannot control a national party," Guha said.
Oxus Investments, chairman, Surjit S Bhalla also aired his views on similar lines but with a flavour of the economy to it.
"The low growth and high inflation spelled the doom of the UPA. Taking advantage of it, Modi presented himself as a viable alternative. And after the polls, the Congress may disintegrate and end the dominance of the family in the party. In fact, Priyanka should also enter the fray so that people of India can decide whether they want the family or not," Bhalla said.
Updated Date: Apr 05, 2014 09:44:04 IST