The PM sounds like a petulant schoolboy as he seeks a fresh mandate
Just as the Modi wave catapulted the BJP to power in 2014, an anti-Modi wave threatens to derail the ‘biggest and the richest’ political party in India in 2019
If 2014 was a presidential election in which an ‘outsider’ sought the mandate to rule, in 2019 also the BJP is contesting the election so that Narendra Modi can continue to do his ‘good work’ for the country. But curiously, while the opposition seems to be campaigning on his performance in the last five years as PM and the record of his Government, Mr Modi is seeking a referendum on himself.
It’s he who is all over the place, in every constituency, criss-crossing the country like a man possessed. In 2014 he had sought five years to do what was not done in 65 years. He now realises that it was unrealistic and says that the last five years were used to lay the foundation of good governance and that he needs five more years to deliver on his promises of better governance. He has turned the election to a referendum not on the performance of his government but into a referendum on himself, between the patriotic Narendra Modi and other treasonous pretenders to the throne.
Quite remarkably, the Prime Minister has not been speaking on what his government did during the past five years. Till the middle of April, the Prime Minister sought votes in the name of armed forces. He took credit for the ‘surgical strike’ in 2016 and the air strike on Pakistan on February 27. He sought votes in the name of ‘martyrs’ of Pulwama. He claimed India was under serious threat from Pakistan and terrorists and the country needed a strong government and a strong leader. His message of muscular nationalism was magnified manifold by the media and it seemed the BJP would ride on Balakot to win a comfortable victory.
The Prime Minister, by the end of April, had become increasingly shrill in his speeches. He no longer looked cool and confident. Instead, he looked rattled. He became abusive and he targeted the Congress and other opposition leaders in language that bordered on the vicious. He reserved his worst barks and bites for the Congress President Rahul Gandhi and All India Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee.
The curious spectacle of a towering leader not uttering a word on his government’s performance cannot be an accident. After all he has been called the ‘Publicity Minister’ and not the Prime Minister. His penchant for taking credit for everything, often falsely, does not square with his silence on his deeds during the campaign. One has only to recall PM Modi talking after Demonetisation and after introduction of the GST and remember his puffed up performance to marvel at his radio silence on these and other issues.
In his monthly radio talks he had lectured on everything to everyone. From farming to how to prepare for examinations. But during the campaign he has got busy talking about Rajiv Gandhi, assassinated 28 years ago, the Bofors case, which was thrown out by the court in 2004 and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots after the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi. His challenge to the Congress: campaign on these issues in the last two phases of the election! The Prime Minister has sounded like a petulant schoolboy. And this is the surest sign that the election is not going as the BJP had hoped it would. It was a tad too overconfident of the PM’s public image, its war chest and the organisation at the booth level.