Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP Chief Amit Shah at the national executive meeting.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s concluding address at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) two-day national executive meeting sets the tone for ruling party’s great battle of 2019. The general election to Lok Sabha, the lower House of Parliament, will see Modi put out a defiant act in defending his government’s overall performance.
In many ways, it would be a repeat of his confrontational style that gives no quarters to rivals and critics. For the Prime Minister believes winner takes all in politics and there is no place for coming second in any contest.
The political resolution adopted by the BJP, which heads the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, has avoided contentious issues like the steep hike in prices of petroleum products, the construction of Ram temple and above all the growing unrest among the Dalits and the upper castes.
The decision not to raise the Ram temple issue may be tactical. A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra is shortly expected to decide whether the issue of mosque being an essential part of Islam has to be referred to a larger bench for examination. A Constitution bench in 1994 had held that mosque was not an essential part of Islam. CJI is expected to retire on October 2 and may decide the issue before his term comes to an end.
In his usually aggressive tone, Modi has sought to defend the performance of his government by asserting that he would seek a comparison of his 48 months in office with 48 years of Congress governments under the Nehru-Gandhi family. The slogan in many ways is a throwback to Chandrashekhar days.
In the 1991 elections held after the Congress withdrew support, Chandrashekhar had invoked the slogan: 4 months vs 40 years. The young turk had been Prime Minister for mere 4 months before Congress decided to withdraw support over surveillance of Rajiv Gandhi by two Haryana cops.
The underlining message of the two-day deliberations is that the BJP still sees a dilapidated Congress as its main party. The targeting of the grand old party may be strategic as the ruling dispensation sees it emerging as a nucleus of anti-BJP front that may take shape in coming months as elections draw closer.
The BJP realises that it can win handsome dividends in a multi-cornered contest, but may run into rough weather if a grand alliance around Congress takes shape. The drubbing the BJP received in by-elections to Phulpur, Gorakhpur and Kairana Lok Sabha seats was largely due to opposition unity with Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal fielding a common candidate.
To take sting out of such a possibility, Modi stressed the point that the so-called mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) had no leader, clear policy and dishonest in intent. Targeting the Congress, he asserted that it failed both as ruling party as well as in the opposition. There is a need to counter its lies on various issues through facts and strategy, he added.
The stage is set for a grand battle of 2019, where there will be no hostages.