The Karnataka election victory has encouraged the Congress to continue with what it now considers are ‘winning tactics’ – primarily the personal targeting of Prime Minister Modi and denigrating whatever he claims to have done. Whether this assessment is correct only time will tell, but the country is in for continued daily disparagement of the man considered responsible for the Congress’ ouster from office till the Lok Sabha elections are held. Even the Uttarakhand Congress, which was looking pretty clueless till now, has jumped on the bandwagon and is acting energised.
Considering the fact that it was the Prime Minister’s decision to build a new Parliament building, cutting through the stupor of the past, and that he performed the ‘bhoomi-pujan’, it should not seem so extraordinary that he should also be the one to inaugurate it. He has not yet personally responded to the demands that the President do the honours, but as the nation’s elected leader, he is the one to make the choice. The rejection of the plea in the Supreme Court in this regard has sunk the ‘constitutional challenge’ but that will not discourage the opposition. A new controversy over a ‘sceptre’ (the sengol) has been triggered to ensure the ceremony loses as much of its lustre as possible, reducing the boost the PM may get to his image from the occasion.
Such targeting may be possible with regard to a ‘secular’ event, but the opposition will have to tread very carefully when it is time for the Ayodhya Ram Temple’s inauguration, because that would be right up the BJP’s playbook. The Congress may feel boosted by the results of the recent election, but the BJP has been working on its core Hindutva vote for a long time now and is unlikely to change track – Karnataka or not.
The divide manufactured over the inauguration is also helping BJP pull in some of its estranged NDA constituents and ideological fellow-travellers. The PM’s successful foreign policy initiatives such as the recent visit down under and the G20 events have naturally boosted national pride. Should Rahul Gandhi continue to mess up during his planned interactions in the US before the PM’s visit there, it would further alienate the patriotic folk. It is certain that no punches are going to be pulled as, for the Congress at least, it is a matter of sheer survival.