Editorial: While The Media is Nitpicking ‘Opposition Unity’, BJP’s Problems Are Increasing Day-by-Day
The BJP was hoping to capitalise on the Balakot airstrikes but that "nationalistic" effect, if any, has now vapourised.
The tone, tenor and tint of media coverage can make many believe that the Opposition parties are in a state of disarray in the forthcoming general elections and consequently, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP )is having a free run with the electorate. It is easy to be swept by the narrative that the Opposition is no match for the well-oiled machinery of the BJP and singlemindedness of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah. But a closer look at facts tell us that this is not true — the BJP is still struggling with major problems and unable to plot a clear way ahead.
First, a look at the Opposition. Barring Delhi, there is no uncertainty about alliances anywhere else. It is now known that there will be no alliance in Bengal, while alliances in Uttar Pradesh (between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party), Tamilnadu (led by the DMK), Jharkhand (Congress, JMM etc.), Maharashtra (Congress and NCP), J&K (Congress and NC), and Bihar (RJD and Congress) have already been sealed. All this has been done well before the BJP has even announced a single candidate for the Lok Sabha polls. Meanwhile, the Congress party has already announced 146 of its candidates so far, which speaks for the difference between the two parties.
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The BJP, right now, is trying to craft a campaign around everyone being a chowkidar, whereby the huge corruption allegation against Modi is diluted, and the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi are dissuaded from using the popular slogan “Chowkidar chor hai”. Notwithstanding the BJP’s outlandish claims made by the Ravi Shankar Prasad, analysis on social media platforms show that Modi’s “Main bhi Chowkidar” campaign has had the opposite effect — it has either become a subject of mockery or derision. And in the majority of cases, it has reminded people of the allegation of massive corruption Modi is defending himself against. It has lent credence to the belief that Modi indulged in cronyism, corruption and wrongdoing in the Rafale deal, and has been stung by Gandhi’s pointed attack. The campaign has also pitched Gandhi as the main Opposition leader and the face of those leading the charge against him: all the ambitious regional leaders of the imaginary federal front have been pushed on to the backburner.
The BJP was hoping to capitalise on the Balakot airstrikes but that “nationalistic” effect, if any, has already vapoured away. Few voters are going to be swayed by those strikes done by the Indian Air Force. Even “North Korean” channels like Times Now have rated its effect, as surveyed a few days after the airstrikes, and predicted a bump of only ten seats for the BJP. Once you discount the Times Now factor and the greater passage of time, that bump is a negative — more akin to a bump on Modi’s head, from the anger and wrath of millions of Indians who feel betrayed by his promises before 2014.
The graph of the BJP’s popularity has been dipping since 2014, but it fell decisively with the Gujarat assembly elections where the saffron party managed only to scrape through. Modi lost the three assembly elections of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh to Gandhi a few months ago, and has done nothing to stage a recovery. Reports suggest that the BJP’s internal surveys show them in the range of 160-170 seats in 2019 elections, which has led to further missteps and panicky moves from the party.
While media pundits focus on highlighting the tiniest of the problems with the Opposition, the BJP is the only one facing the real crisis. Trust the wise Indian voter to recognise those signs, and come election day, they will deliver the verdict that Modi dreads and BJP fears — the one that India deserves.