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Little Hope

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If various kinds of feedback from states facing elections are anything to go by, the support for Prime Minister Modi is certainly going to work for the BJP. This is despite the fact that state level and local issues are not directly related to the policies and actions of the government at the Centre. This situation has partly emerged because of the BJP’s strategy to deliberately place Modi centre-stage; and the failure of the opposition, particularly the Congress, to construct an alternative narrative, as well as put up chief ministerial candidates. The people’s experience in MP and Rajasthan, where the Congress scored assembly level wins, has not exactly enthused voters to take a chance against the incumbents in Maharashtra and Haryana. In fact, political analysts are of the opinion that it would be a miracle if the Congress does not face a total whitewash. It is not as though support for the party does not exist; it is just that few people are in the mood to take the alternatives being offered with the necessary seriousness. Take, for instance, Rahul Gandhi’s campaign – it is the same old propaganda that was rejected outright by the electorate in the Lok Sabha elections. The Rafale deal, demonetisation, ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’, etc., are all he has to offer, as though time has stood still. He does not seem to have learned anything from defeat, the best teacher of all! Unfortunately, as of now, he is all that the party has to offer as chief campaigner. The picture is likely to be different in Uttarakhand’s local elections, but only because the ruling BJP is in fractious mode. The Congress has not made any kind of a comeback as a political entity and will only benefit from effective exploitation of grassroots issues by individual candidates. Whatever be the result, it should serve as an opportunity for the party to recognise the next-generation leaders that will be thrown up. A relatively good performance should not be interpreted as a thumbs-up for the present over the hill and jaded leadership. In the case of the BJP, it will be time for introspection on why MLAs and other leaders are doing so much to embarrass the party. Do they not have the intellectual capacity to stay within constitutional proprieties while pursuing the political agenda? The people cannot and will not be taken for granted. There is no scope for complacency.