The opponents of the BJP are unable to digest the stupendous success of the party ever since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of the country in 2014. They have been using spurious arguments to undermine the expansion of the party and are keen to figure out who could be the challenger to Modi. Even a flicker light in a distance is magnified many times to create an atmosphere of hope for the opposition’s revival.
It is in this context that Prime Minister Narendra Modi questioned the independence of so-called media and critics who claim themselves to be independent or neutral but end up giving an anti-BJP, anti-Modi narrative. A careful analysis would testify that those who peddle a certain narrative are the same who have been trying to oppose Modi ever since he became the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001.
In such a polarised society that India has become, neutrality has become a myth. The camouflage of neutrality is merely a ruse to nurse the wounds. When right time comes, they would come out with deeper fangs. They are asthmatic to the name Narendra Modi since they tried everything they could to defame Modi and prevent him from coming to power. They were the fire fighters of the Lutyen’s gang to paint Modi as the villain but they failed. All their attempts to prevent Modi from becoming the Prime Minister came a cropper but continued with their dirty work.
Their single most insult is why Modi did not co-opt them. Any other politician would have extended an olive branch and bought peace. How can a Prime Minister become so popular and survive well despite so much of opposition? This is their biggest insult. The narrative they peddle is refusing to influence public opinion. When Modi speaks, they get exposed.
The same bias and prejudice were reflected when Lutyen’s media and critics started analysing the assembly elections results. In trying to paint the BJP’s victory as insignificant, they conveniently forgot that Gujarat once used to have direct contest between the Congress and the BJP. The Congress had once invented the KHAM (Khatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslims) political combination to script its victory in the State.
Madhav Singh Solanki who had invented the KHAM theory had given a massive victory to the Congress in 1985. The party won 149 Assembly seats. Media and Congress supporters had gone berserk claiming that the same caste combination could be engineered in other states and establish the Congress in power for a very long time. None is asking what happened to the KHAM and why?
Despite all odds, despite opposition’s best attempts to create conflict in the State during the Corona crisis, the people have given a big thumps-up to the BJP by making it victorious on 156 of the 182 Assembly seats—a never before feat in the Assembly. The party got massive social support from the tribal community and from people in the rural areas.
The massive support from people demolished the theory that split in the Opposition’s vote gives victory to the BJP. The party won 52.5% vote share, an improvement from the 49% it held last time. The party has long been asserting that its aim has been to secure more than 50% votes on all constituencies. And this is going to be the party’s target even in the Lok Sabha elections of 2024.
One factor that has made these elections special is the Modi factor. His campaign galvanises people. The massive communicator that he is, people trust his words and his passion to sincerely work for the country’s prosperity. His simplicity makes them forget the sins of the local leaders who may not have worked as per their expectations. And candidates actually do not matter in most cases.
For the critics and the opposition, the yardstick for judging the BJP is different. If the BJP has won Gujarat, the victory is considered not complete since the Congress was not in the fight and the Aam Aadmi cut into tottering Congress’ votes. For them, had the Congress campaigned vigorously the story would have been different. They don’t ask why the Congress did not try its best. Did the Congress not see the writing on the walls when two of its poster boys Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor dumped the party and joined the BJP? This explains why Rahul Gandhi focused on his “Bharat Jodo Yatra”. He knew that Gujarat was a tough turf under the benevolent shadow of the Prime Minister.
If the Congress has won in Himachal Pradesh, the critics of the BJP describe it as resounding and a sign of revival. They conveniently forget that the difference of vote share is only .9% (less than one per cent). Himachal Pradesh voters have never given second consecutive term to any party since 1985. In 2017, the BJP had won 44 seats and secured 48.79% votes. This was 7.11% more votes than those polled by the Congress that won 21 seats.
One can definitely say that the BJP failed to duck the trend but to describe the Congress’ victory as upsurge for the Congress is far from the truth. Some critics even gave the bizarre theory that failure of communal polarisation due to low Muslim population in the State prevent the BJP from repeating victory. Such theories were discussed for a State that has witnessed bipolar contest and has alternatively voted the rivals to power.
Just before the polls in Gujarat, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has flashed a paper at a press conference in Surat with his signature and asserted that his party was forming the Government in the State. He asserted that his predictions never went wrong. None questioned him after the disastrous results. Media and critics would have made fun if a similar claim in the same dramatic way made by some other leader. The AAP could not win a single seat in Himachal Pradesh, but no questions why it lost all seats.
Media and critics are still trying to project Kejriwal as a challenger to Modi. The only basis seems to be some success at the municipal elections in Delhi where the AAP got three per cent more votes than the BJP. The credit for victory should go to the near decimation of the Congress in Delhi. But for the media and critics MCD’s marginal victory in Delhi is more significant than the BJP’s authentic victory in Gujarat that broke all records or the AAP’s humiliating forays in Himachal Pradesh.
It is the search for a challenger that the media had lapped Arvind Kejriwal when he contested against Modi in Varanasi in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. His massive defeat was not spoken in the same way as when he was projected as a challenger. For Kejriwal this was a win-win situation whether he won or lost. His main aim was to get projected as a challenger to Modi. The media is just playing into his gameplan. The massive advertisement budget for media and publicity works well for him. None asks him why he is giving advertisements about Delhi in newspapers of other states.
The campaign of these so-called neutral people who act as fire-fighters for the Congress and are sworn enemies of the BJP and Modi would intensify to make the environment more vicious. The Prime Minister hinted at this when he asked BJP’s supporters to keep their patience. The toolkits would become active and it would appear that the society is mired in conflict. One needs to recall Yogendra Yadav’s statement after victory of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
During an interview on television after victory of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh early this year, Yadav ruminated on the failure of the opposition to encash the opportunity that the farmers’ agitation against farm laws had provided. “We prepared the pitch, but the opposition did not bowl well,” he had said. Now it appears that the entire gameplan was to dislodge the BJP from Uttar Pradesh. But they failed to appreciate that an ordinary man has much better political sense about who is good for them.