“So, to praise others for their virtues can but encourage one’s own efforts.”
The 2014 election was a fight between Congress and non-Congress forces. Barring the UPA allies, almost all other parties were fuming at the mis-governance of Congress. While others could not articulate the people’s frustration, BJP exploited it by projecting Narendra Modi as the only alternative. It is four years since the Modi government had come to power and already the next general election is on the horizon. The Modi government’s achievements might not be of sterling quality, but these could not be cursorily dismissed either. The judgment would depend on the scale of ambition of the assessor rather than sheer fact. But the scenario in 2019 is going to be different. Obviously the element of incumbency would certainly come to play. The spate of losses in Lok Sabha bypolls indicates that BJP cannot take the Opposition unity lightly in the run-up to the 2019 general elections and it will have to chalk out an out of the-box strategy for another term.
There is no denying that the Opposition success in the recent by-elections has made the BJP leaders, including Amit Shah, jittery. After facing reverses in the by-polls across the country, the BJP, it seems, has woken up to the realities of electoral politics and has embarked on a course correction through ‘Sampark’ mission to bolster its prospects in the 2019 general elections. Shah’s ‘Sampark’ mission is also aimed at rebuilding bridges with the allies. As part of the mega public drive, 4,000 BJP functionaries will contact one lakh people, who are well known in their respective fields, to spread the word about the NDA government’s programmes and policies launched since 2014. Shah, who had already met Uddhav Thackrey, chief of Shiv Sena, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, industrialist Ratan Tata, actress Madhuri Dixit, former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev besides a number of other prominent celebrities, is scheduled to meet 50 people as part of his ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ (contact for support) campaign. In 2014 BJP (read Modi) rode to power riding on the support of the urban middle class. But sadly, the same middle class has turned his bitter critic despite his party’s series of attempts to restore his image. So, it is this class which Shah is targeting in his mission. However, Shah-Modi duo should not forget that damage has already been done –GST, demonetization, rise in prices petrol, diesel, essential commodities etc.
As part of this programme, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, accompanied by the state BJP chief Ranjeet Kumar Das met intellectual Hiren Gohain, noted journalist Kanak Sen Deka, a group of autorickshaw drivers etc in the heart of Guwahati city. Sonowal, who has completed two years in office, is now facing the biggest challenge of his political career with Citizenship (Amendment Bill) and updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Accept the tirade against corruption, there is nothing to write home about two years of Sonowal government. There is no guarantee that the overwhelming support he had received two years back would translate into votes in 2019. Only time will tell if this ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ campaign would pay any dividend at all.