Narendra Modi may still not become Prime Minister in 2014 and his time may come much later. However, by appointing the Gujarat Chief Minister as Chairman of the BJP’s party campaign committee for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections the BJP have come out with a master stroke.
One thing appears certain. The BJP will now definitely get more Lok Sabha seats than the Congress and the NDA will emerge as the biggest entity in the next elections. Now they may still fall short of the half-way mark, but they will retain their relevance at the national stage all the same.
After losing in 2004 and 2009, a poor showing in 2014 would have finished them off. Now even if the UPA and Third Front get together to keep the NDA out of power, that move may well backfire in the long run.
Now the BJP campaign will get its much-needed shot in the arm and the BJP workers will be enthused enough to fight it out in the next general elections. In fact Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar put it succinctly when he said that the party finally had a direction for the future.
Parrikar must be given credit for unambigiously backing Modi and hinting at keeping older politicians out of the reckoning.
In fact the biggest outcome of this move is that the reign of the old guard has finally come to an end. The curtains have finally fallen on the LK Advani era.
Advani was a great BJP leader and is responsible for the party’s revival in the 1990s and has the biggest hand in making AB Vajpayee as Prime Minister. He was also an able Deputy PM and Home Minister.
But all good things come to an end and in the last few years Advani was doing more harm to the party than good. Whether one likes it or not, certain facts are crystal clear…
1. Modi is the most popular leader in India cutting across all political parties.
2. Despite Godhra, Modi has a strong development and decisive image, something that will squarely appeal the populace of India. Modi further has no credible corruption charges against him and will be able to attack corruption in the Congress.
3. Younger leaders like Parrikar have backed Modi and the new nucleus of a BJP young political brigade can be formed. It must be noted than even Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj are younger than Modi. This is an important point as age is still a critical factor in Indian politics.
4. Most of the BJP workers want Modi. If you keep them happy, then they will campaign with vigour. They are the people who matter at the grass root level.
In the light of all of the above, it was quite petty if Advani and the old guard were trying to keep Modi out of the picture on personal grounds.
This will also send a very clear signal to all the allies. JD(U) head honcho Nitish Kumar is walking on very shaky ground now.
If he pushes the BJP too hard, then they may well snap ties in Bihar. If BJP goes it all alone in Bihar, then they well end up winning a good number of Lok Sabha seats. Nitish may end up as the biggest loser.
Also now that Modi has been officially appointed, certain allies the like SAD and Shiv Sena will fall in line.
Modi is also known to share a good rapport with Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK and Naveen Patnaik of the BJD.
Even allies like Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress will have no choice but to support the NDA as she has totally burnt her bridges with the Congress.
In fact, the BJP’s first challenge is to get more Lok Sabha seats than the Congress. Once that happens, then it will be a cat and mouse game with all the allies.
Make no mistake about it. This is the biggest turning point post-2009. Modi will be on the attack now and will easily be able to take on the UPA since it has such a dismal record thanks to all its scams.
If the Congress tries to play the communalism card too much, then that may fall into the hands of other parties like the SP and BSP.
Also, in the battle of speeches, Modi has thrashed Rahul black and blue.
All in all, though they may not show it, the Congress must be a very worried and scared party indeed.
The Modi juggernaut has finally begun.