Narendra Modi is BJP’s only card

Narendra Modi is BJP’s only card

Courtesy : ET14/12/2018 07:25

New Delhi: Tuesday’s results have brought the spotlight back on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, just like the time when BJP announced Modi as its prime ministerial candidate in September 2013.

This time, however, the backdrop is sombre and humbling. At that time, the call was on who had the best chance to maximize BJP’s chances in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections — and there were contenders, including Shivraj Singh Chouhan, but the nomination went to Modi and so did the spotlight.

There’s no such gathering this time, no contenders, no speculators either. They have all receded, either defeated or bruised like Chouhan, Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje Scindia.

The only leader left standing is now Modi and on him rests the party’s chances in 2019, hence the spotlight. The results, rather than weakening the PM within the BJP, is going to increase the party’s dependence on him.

 Because the Modi factor is now clearly the principal differentiator between the BJP and the Congress, without which the party now looks considerably shaken and for a good reason.

Let’s not forget that Gujarat, MP, Rajasthan and later Chhattisgarh have been central to the BJP’s rise in national politics.

 Even when Atal Bihari Vajpayee lost power in 2004, the BJP won 70 (nearly half its tally) of the 91 seats in these states. And the belt (except Rajasthan) stayed a BJP bastion for the past two decades.

But what will this narrative look like after Tuesday’s results? Should it lean further to the right towards an agenda that leads with building the Ram temple or should it tilt more the economic left with farm loan waivers and sops? Here’s where the BJP will have to a call.

 A quick recast of the Modi narrative will need to be clear on what he stands for. The BJP has been riding too many boats from the right wing Hindu agenda to the reformist and also, the welf are - state.

Modi needs to decide one over the other, because his high popular appeal needs a fresh governance narrative, not more polarisation. On the governance score, however, the problem is the apparent institutional instability that has rocked the government in the past few months.

The PM and his team seem to be struggling trying to plug holes and the pressure is beginning to show.

In short , there’s plenty to be done to string a new Modi narrative in a short span of time. To that extent, his measured exposure in these elections and local anti-incumbency may have helped conserve his appeal but that may mean little if more happens to shift the momentum away. Either way, with its core under attack, the BJP’s choices are clear — it has only Modi to lean on, both to pull things back and rebuild its base.

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