Organisational strength, charismatic image, taint-free tenure and outreach to new voters are the reasons why Modi seems to be headed to 7 Lok Kalyan Marg once again in 2024
With the Lok Sabha elections less than 12 months away, there is a wide understanding that Narendra Modi is headed for another term as the Prime Minister of the country, backed by a similar massive mandate that the party achieved under him in 2019. Naturally, the opposition parties are making efforts to stop Modi’s return to power, like they have unsuccessfully done in the past.
With lunches and dinners and subsequent photo-ops, the opposition is trying to project ‘unity’. Multi-pronged efforts are being made to create a perception that the opposition is united. The projection notwithstanding, on the ground, there is no concrete shape that this solidarity has taken as yet. But this is not the only factor playing to Modi’s advantage. Several factors make is return to power inevitable.
One may easily recall that in the Lok Sabha elections of 2019, when the questions of ‘face’ and ‘leadership’ emerged, Modi had taken a clear lead. Nearly five years down the line, the situation hasn’t changed much. The entire spectrum of opposition leaders does not have a ‘face’ to match the incumbent Prime Minister.
Not just his supporters, even Modi’s opponents believe that he is the country’s first choice when it comes to electing a Prime Minister. Even at a personal level, Modi is far ahead of any leader in terms of popularity. So much so that no one seems to be getting around him, at least in 2024. ‘Face Modi’ has emerged stronger on the test of credibility. After the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the beginning of the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), under the leadership of Modi, has only grown stronger. The absence of a face to take on Modi’s widely popular persona will be a major reason for the BJP’s comfortable return to power.
Periodic surveys also indicate that most people want Modi to be their Prime Minister. On the one hand, the BJP has a charismatic face like Narendra Modi, on the other hand, the opposition’s biggest weakness is the lack of ‘face’ and leadership. Significantly, the biggest weakness of the opposition is the biggest strength of the BJP.
ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE AND STRENGTH
It was because of Modi’s charismatic leadership that a large section of voters joined the BJP in the years following 2014. This was the reason why the BJP’s vote percentage increased to the best in history when votes were counted in 2019. For voters who passionately reposed faith in Modi’s leadership, this was a great opportunity to connect and communicate with the BJP.
Even as more and more people have joined the BJP, the party has made concerted efforts to connect voters, who joined the fold believing in Modi, with its organization. The BJP has continuously communicated with them, got them party membership and thus expanded the party’s reach to every section of the society, working at the micro level. These organisational activities have been working nonstop over the past nine years. Contrary to this, other parties do not see any such continuous activity of organizational expansion.
According to one estimate, the biggest success for the BJP at the organizational level in the past nine years has been how it has been able to connect the voters directly with the party. The BJP currently has around 17 crore members. With coordination between the organisation and the government, the BJP has strengthened its ground in the past nine years, a model that no party has been able to implement so far.
STRATEGY TO WOO NEW VOTERS
Prime Minister Modi created a new electorate through schemes for welfare of the poor. Through schemes such as Jan Dhan, Ujjwala, Saubhagya, Awas Yojana, Swachh Bharat, Ayushman and Kisan Samman Nidhi, Modi has strengthened his credibility amid the economically marginalised and vulnerable sections of the country. In 2014, Modi got around 17,16,57,000 votes. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it increased by about 5 crore votes.
The increase was attributed to beneficiary voters, or those whose lives improved because of the policies of the Modi government.
Now, through schemes such as free ration, free Covid vaccine and Har Ghar Nal Se Jal, Narendra Modi has been able to reach a larger beneficiary group than in 2019. About 80 crore people are beneficiaries of free ration. The impact of this widening reach was seen in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Due to a strong and motivated organizational base, reaching out to beneficiaries is part of the BJP’s routine work. Over the past five years, the BJP karyakartas have contacted the beneficiaries several times. Modi, in fact, directly communicates with the beneficiaries regularly. The pattern makes it clear, in the 2024 elections, the BJP is set to get a wider support than 2019. The Modi model of politics has worked to weed out the roots of casteism and appeasement politics in the country. As a result, the base of regional parties is shrinking.
One of the major strengths of PM Modi is that people look at him with expectations, and he is able to fulfil those. It is this aspect of his leadership which evokes sabka vishwas (everyone’s trust). PM Modi strengthened this trust in the difficult times of Covid. He has emerged as a samvedanshil (sensitive) leader who is empathetic to the problems of the common people. This is the reason why despite repeated attacks by the opposition, the people’s trust in him remains unshakable.
DISINTEGRATION OF OPPOSITION AND LACK OF LEADERSHIP
The biggest challenge that political analysts have been talking about against Modi is opposition unity. As of now, there is no visible form of an ‘intact alliance’. Apart from the symbolic rhetoric of alliances on different forums, no formula has emerged on the basis of which it can be said that there is ‘unity’ at the national level against Modi. At the national level, there is no ‘Grand Alliance’ in sight. On the question of leadership, the leaders of this ‘coalition of imagination’ are unable to give any concrete answers.
It is a good sign for the BJP that at a time when the opposition remains fragmented, all the constituents of the BJP unitedly seem ready to contest the elections under the leadership of Narendra Modi.
While the BJP-led NDA has almost made its nature clear, the anti-BJP alliance seems amorphous. The factor will play to the BJP’s advantage. The biggest crisis in opposition unity is their policy-less approach. If the opposition parties think they will succeed in the name of ‘Remove Modi’, then this strategic blunder could cost them a bigger political rout than 2019.
PEOPLE’S FAITH IN A TAINT-FREE TENURE
One of the highlights of Modi’s nine-year rule has been that there has been no taint on him or his government. This will be a major reason for the BJP’s return to the Centre in the upcoming elections, because in 2014, Modi came to power raising the issue of corruption and irregularities in governance. Even today, Modi is seen to speak and act against corruption with consistency. Under Modi, there is an unprecedented transparency in policies and their implementation.
The opposition does not have any allegations of corruption that they can put on the Modi government and hope for it to stick before the public. Rahul Gandhi may have been raising the issue of Adani, but people do not seem to be believing any of it. Earlier in 2018, Gandhi had raised the Rafale issue in a similar way, but it failed to hold water before the public.
In fact, the question here is not about the accusations. The issue is trust. Voters have more faith in Modi. Voters do not believe Rahul Gandhi. Modi has earned this trust over years of his public service – first as chief minister and then as Prime Minister – over the last two decades. On the other hand, the Gandhi scion has consistently lost credibility because of the contradictions in his words and deeds.
Organisational strength, charismatic image, taint-free tenure and outreach to new voters are the reasons why Modi seems to be headed to 7 Lok Kalyan Marg once again in 2024.
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