Is there a Modi-wave?
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Nitish Kumar’s decision to part company with the grand alliance and align with BJP has certainly put his secular credentials in doubt. Kumar has apparently given greater importance to retain his chief ministerial position in Bihar and also take steps, which in BJP’s opinion are likely to weaken the opposition parties in this state. The hard fact that Lalu Prasad’s party (RJD) performed better in Bihar assembly polls has probably still not been digested by Kumar. Thus, irrespective of whether his decision has displeased certain members of his own party and is equivalent to backtracking on his electoral campaign against BJP has not been given any importance by Kumar. It seems, Kumar has played politics as desired by BJP. Yes, BJP’s priority ahead of forthcoming elections is to try its hand at every strategy possible to weaken opposition parties.
Not too long ago, Kumar had opposed accepting Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister primarily because of the Gujarat-carnage. Against this backdrop, would it be fair to assume that a Modi-wave is having a major impact in weakening opposition and attracting its members to its camp? The same question may be put a little differently. Perhaps, BJP is not totally confident of the impact of Modi-wave and is therefore making extra-efforts to create divisions within the opposition parties. Undeniably, BJP succeeded in winning assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh (UP). However, it won lesser votes than opposition parties in UP. Defeat in Bihar assembly by the then grand alliance formed against it has apparently cautioned BJP about the strength that opposition parties can display by aligning together. And creating divisions in ranks of opposition parties to prevent formation of a grand alliance against it appears to be a key political strategy that BJP is working hard at. BJP and perhaps Modi also are not extremely confident of the electoral impact of the Modi-wave.
There is nothing surprising about the hype created about the Modi-wave. In fact, the trend in India is to give primary importance to certain individuals and/or families in political parties. The failure of Congress party to give chance to leaders outside the Gandhi family has only contributed to its weakening. It may be noted, Sonia Gandhi has not always remained in the forefront. After her husband, Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, she chose to remain in the political background. This led to too many leaders rushing to take charge of the party, which led to a crisis within the Congress. This was controlled when Sonia finally stepped forward and took charge of the party. Sadly, this trend is visible in most parties.
The government in Jammu and Kashmir is decided by political the fate of parties led by Abdullah and Mufti families. Though an internal strife prevails in Samajwadi Party (SP), only Mulayam Singh and his son remain in charge of divided factions. Lalu Prasad has ensured that his family members are in the forefront in his party. Certainly, leaders of Trinamool Congress (TC) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) cannot be blamed for confining their party reins to their family members. At the same time, given the tight hold the two ladies have on their respective parties, it is not difficult to visualise the fate of TC and BSP Mamata Bannerjee and Mayawati, respectively.
It may be noted, the stronghold of certain individuals and/or families on their specific parties also minimises the impact of the Modi-wave in their respective domains. It is as yet too early to state that in the coming elections their political strength may be weakened because of the Modi-wave. In Bihar, till Kumar parted company with the grand alliance, BJP was in opposition. Only an alliance with JD (U) helped it become a part of the Bihar government. It may be recalled, the Modi-wave is said to have played a major role in helping BJP win 2014 parliamentary polls. However, during the same phase, BJP failed to win Delhi assembly elections. These were won by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) headed by Arvind Kejriwal. If AAP loses the next polls, it would be more appropriate to view the same as failure of Kejriwal’s government than success of simply Modi-wave.
Nevertheless, recent developments suggest that BJP’s success seems highly dependent on the Modi-wave. BJP’s success in attracting votes from the ranks of opposition in presidential elections followed by changes in its favour in Bihar politics suggest that the Modi-wave is here to stay for some time. That is, importance shall continue being given to it by BJP. At the same time, BJP is highly conscious of the strong hold of several regional parties in their respective states. If BJP was totally confident of the Modi-wave, it would not have given much importance to create divisions in the opposition camp and align with regional parties to participate in state governments. It is to be watched whether only hype about the Modi-wave helps Modi’s political strategies. Modi is keen to continue in power. The hype created about the Modi-wave is apparently a part of his strategy to prevent the emergence of any other leader from BJP’s ranks as his rival.