Modi-Shah should let voters decide who belongs to the past

There hadn�t been many bright ideas in the two-and-a-half years it has been in power barring the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the more than usual foreign trips by the PM

Modi-Shah should let voters decide who belongs to the past

The BJP seems to be getting a little too drunk on its aim of “ridding India of the Congress”. It is said hubris is only visible in hindsight, maybe the party will correct itself after it gets hurt, and only if it does, by the nonchalant bluffoonery on March 11. It is also said that Rome wasn’t built in a day but it took poor Nero just one day to burn the megalopolis down. Will the BJP waste its gains of 2014, 2015 and 2016 (some minuses here) in the run-up to the blockbuster of 2017, the elections to Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand?


The BJP already has a bit of history on its side for being the first simple majority government in 30 years. It has 282 seats all by itself in the Lok Sabha and is in power as the National Democratic Alliance government with 339 MPs. There hadn’t been many bright ideas in the two-and-a-half years it has been in power barring the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the more than usual foreign trips by the PM. But last November saw the blitzkrieg idea of demonetisation unleashed on the country. The ill effects of demonetisation may have receded in the cities but there is hunger and starvation out in daylight in the hinterland. The BJP has created its own Achilles’ Heel which can gouge out its future in painful stabs.

Of late, the party has been pooh-poohing the Congress as a non-entity. Yesterday in Punjab, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Congress is yesterday’s news and asked the people of Punjab to vote for the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine. On Saturday, party president Amit Shah did the same when a reporter asked him about the Samajwadi Party plus Congress alliance, to which Shah replied there was shunya and Samajwadi Party. Modi, Shah and the rest of the party should stop rubbing it in for the Congress. Because the greatest lesson of 2014 wasn’t just a BJP victory, it was how social media perceives a statement.

Among the clear markers of the Congress foolhardiness ahead of the 2014 election was an offhand comment of the often-very-wise and straight-punching Mani Shankar Aiyar at a Congress party event at Talkatora stadium. With the entire BJP social media machinery riding the Modi chaiwala tune then, Aiyar said the chaiwala should come to the Congress event and sell some tea. That was enough. Like dipping a cloth in petrol and waving it in front of the social media fire.

The BJP should revisit that Aiyar moment, take heed and focus more on what it will do for the five states going to the polls than pooh-pooh a rival. The dance of democracy cannot be always in tune with 140-character twitter slugs.

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