2019 Run-Up: The BJP-RSS and Vikas Game Plan

July 07, 2018
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   2019 is predicted to offer another year of surprises for the people of India. The battle against the two major political ally groups, NDA and UPA, shall begin within a year and the country will soon see overlapping and highly competitive campaigns rallied by acclaimed political pundits. The Bharatiya Janata Party, a well known Hindu-nationalist party, headed by the Shah-Modi combo currently leads the National Democratic Alliance, consisting of 46 member parties (Source). It had crossed the magic number of 272 in the previous elections, but contemporary conditions outlay the fading of the 'Hawa' the party had possessed earlier. The Indian National Congress, a party which had more previously ruled more than 2/3rds of the total number

The Indian Flag during an election rally (Source: awaaznation.com)

 of states only a decade back has withered, to being dubbed as the 'joke party' of the country, seems to be eyeing a political comeback in the 2019 elections. Will 2019 be a cakewalk for the ruling party? A hope of survival for the Gandhis? The future remains uncertain.

Is Anti-incumbency an essential factor for the 2019 run-up?
       According to Nirmala Ravishankar, "Anti-incumbency' appears to be the most frequently cited reason due to which ruling parties face slightly misplaced odds during elections (Source). An eye-opening NDTV report which encapsulated the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Elections (Source) defined the importance of anti-incumbency in the polity of our country. Congress' Abhishek Manu Singhvi had stated that the BJP had gained enough support to pose as an anti-incumbent force.

However, a report from The Quint, contradicted the earlier statements as it spilled out details, mentioning that anti-incumbency could dent the BJP's prospects in the following elections. But political parties shall try to dismount anti-incumbency through a slew of schemes during the election year. A variety of projects, chiefly aimed at the lower strata of the people shall be rightly executed during the election year. The BJP, along with the RSS has been promoting 'Modicare' or simply the National Health Insurance Scheme to alleviate anti-incumbency. This scheme focuses on providing health insurance coverage worth Rs.5 lakh for families identified under the CSO. If implemented successfully, it could help the ruling party garner the votes of the urban poor, who have been against the party's pro-capitalist propaganda. This could also result in a possible upsurge in its support base with anti-incumbency being just another distant reach for the UPA to vie upon.

Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi: A File Pic

Another negative offset for the NDA would be the series of wins the party had in the past four years in state and local elections. The point of information here, to be noted is that the party's constant electoral victories have been causing severe setbacks. To analyze state elections and its implications on the national level, it is essential to check out individual states (particularly Hindi-speaking states).

Rajasthan: The first woman Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje, who had headed the state once in 2003, and currently is, since 2013 is being subject to anti-incumbency. Doubts seem to gloom over the possibility of her retaining the state of Rajasthan, eventually harming the prospects for the BJP in the 2019 run-up. In 2014, the BJP won all the 25 seats in Rajasthan, but the solid standing of the number is questionable due to the fading away of the Modi 'Hawa,' misdeeds, corruption charges and anti-incumbency under Ms.Scindia.

Haryana: Not only anti-incumbency but the lousy performance of state leaders could change the mindset of party workers during the 2019 elections. Deteriorating law and order, negative job growth, increasing inequality, and long pending projects have pushed the state of Haryana into an inescapable debt trap. Earlier, the NDA won 9 out of 10 seats in this state, but the number might tilt in favor of the UPA in the year of 2019, thanks to Lal Khattar.

Gujarat: The Assembly elections seemed to be a close pull off for the BJP+ in the state. This is not a show of a stopping for the Hindutva Juggernaut. The NDA has broken all norms of electioneering and has set a firm foot in the country, helping it to win elections like never before. The polls saw the reminding of the crowd about the origins of Sonia Gandhi and her roots in being Italian. But, an important takeaway from these elections is the division between Urban and Rural victories for the party. The BJP's win being concentrated in urban centers is a cause of concern for the top-brass of the leadership. 65% of the Indian population lives in rural settings and a large chunk of its population consists of farmers. The Indian National Congress' social media team has done an excellent job in depicting the BJP as an anti-poor organization in this regard. Now, this stereotype is to be tackled within the offset of the 2019 elections and the government is also being forced to take pro-farmer initiatives. Primarily Gujarat has been dominated by the BJP and political experts predict the trend to remain the same.

Uttar Pradesh: Dismounting opposition parties, saffron coloring of the entire state and the charisma of one leader to flipflop a whole election, that is how Uttar Pradesh is understood by election chauvinists. Yogi Adityanath's personal relatedness with the populace, Modi's Hindi connect with voters and the people's disenchantment against other parties provided BJP an edge over the other contenders. Lutyens Media has classified the electioneering of Uttar Pradesh an unsolved mystery and 2019 seeks to give no clue either.

BJP and INC ruled states(Source: Times Now)

Drawing a conclusion from the lines of intricate discussions about anti-incumbency, parties have to compete on the grounds of overall development, religion, caste and of paranoid issues which haunt the common man. Anti-incumbency can only be assumed to play a negligible part in the run-up for the 2019 elections, especially in times when brand Modi seems unstoppable.

A question for alternative politics?
        Earlier, I attended a talk by Professor John Flather in Oxford University. He was a journalist who had extensively covered India and has always been an avid follower of Indian politics. All throughout the talk, we had interesting discussions about corruption at the international level and at national levels around the world. Over the course of the conversation, a particular conversation of how Modi's political caricature had outgrown that of his own party had interested me. The talk further went on to vividly discuss the extent of trust every individual had on one single person. But, does this trust offer an alternative to politics in our country? Maybe. Entrants like Rajinikanth, Kamal Hasan, try providing some other options to the current system but their effectivity remains unknown. The crux of the problem with our populace is 'lack of remembrance.' Mr.Hasan often uses the Tamil term 'maradhi' which simply means 'forgetfulness' in his political trails and campaigns to take a jibe at the electorate. Often referring to Jayalalitha, he slams the people for their misdemeanor of electing her to power again in the 2016 Tamilnadu state elections, within six months of her conviction in the disproportionate assets case. Forgetting the problem provides politicians a loophole in not providing solutions. But, if forgetting the integrity of a politician doesn't affect the politician, or in turn results in generating sympathy for such a politician, then India's constitution is very much a fractured system. Aam Aadmi Party sought out to be a third front, but the party is losing ground in its home turf Delhi and has also been subject to criticism after the exit of Yogendra Yadav. If people are ready to give away political loyalty for better governance, it will mark the beginning of learned and evolved politics. Trying to stick to the convention, ignorance of political honesty and discipline perpetuate the continuation of their customary practices.

This image was published in Business Today showing the working of Modi's campaign team in short. Trust and remembrance must go hand in hand. If blind faith can't help, so doesn't complete ignorance. People in power must be held more accountable and within reachable limits of the law. Decision making in India is too slow for judicial reform to take place(see more). Keeping the article within the context of 2019, no alternative is yet seen for the two major political parties nor is there a charismatic leader like Narendra Modi to swing along the electorate in India.

It is fair to presume AAP to be an alternative in Delhi, Punjab and in no small extent Rajasthan. But, the degree of impact the party holds in the 2019 elections is uncertain. Lack of funds, centralized party functioning, and shortfall in the number of regional leaders has plagued the party since its inception. The party leader, Arvind Kejriwal's appeal is very much limited to the scope of the low-level (poor and marginal) voters and his ability to expand the scope of his vote base is limited. 

The two most forethought questions of electoral politics for 2019 help arrive at somewhat a shaky standpoint that the NDA is most likely to win the 2019 elections. But if Rahul Gandhi is decisive enough to bring together all the opposition leaders on board and eventually provide a strong front against Modi, there can be better off chances for the 'Mahagatbandhan.' With nearly one more year to go, politics in India has always been volatile. The opposition should start working on building a proper organizational cadre to give a better fight against the BJP. The narrative of Indian Politics will change after 2019, and Rahul Gandhi's electoral plunge is predicted to evolve over the course of time.

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