With Polls Approaching, Will Hollow Words Set the Agenda

Prof. Rajvir Sharma12

Every political party, regional or national is seen in the election mode these days for the D day to arrive in the year-end for assembly polls in the four-odd states and later in 2019 for the Lok Sabha polls. New alliances are being stitched on the basis of recognition of their individual and collective political strength to organize, mobilize, politicize and convince the voter to side with them to win the electoral battle at the appointed time.

BJP is focusing on the policies and programmes implemented in the last four and a half years of its existence in power varying from the initiatives taken in the foreign and domestic arenas. Internally, it is highlighting its schemes like Ayusman Bharat, Ujjwala, Mudra, Swachhata, Infrastructure Development, Skill India, Stand Up India and Make in India and its resolve to provide homes to every poor family by 2022.

The Narendra Modi government has taken decisions in favour of the ASHA and Anganwari Workers to raise their remuneration from 100-50 percent to win their confidence and support at the ensuing Lok Sabha elections as well as in the Assembly elections. Provision of electricity to every home in the rural areas too and for a longer period is also being advertised by the party to convince the voter to return it back to power. Its marketing machine is busy to sell the rising global image and influence in the field of international politics. Its image has also been comparatively good when seen in the context of security and defence.


Modernization of the defence forces and enhancing its war capabilities including the decisions like surgical strike has generally drawn peoples’ approval. So, one can say that BJP has not only been largely successful in selling its pro-poor and Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas product. It is also engaged in penetrating the unexplored Muslim constituency like the Daudi Boharas representing an entrepreneurial and influential Muslim group along with the Muslim women who have started to see BJP as a partner in their fight for gender justice by appreciating its policy to oppose inhuman practices like Triple Talaq, polygamy and Nikah Halala which have virtually reduced then to a situation of slavery, indignity and discrimination with reference to the rights under law and the constitution.

If the BJP is able to reach out to them in an extensive manner through micro influencers and campaigners at the booth level, it is going to pay it heavy political gains to win the Assembly elections this year and the Lok Sabha next. The poor rural women who have been relieved from manual labour and fear of getting affected by lung or eye diseases through Ujjwala scheme are likely to be the new friends of BJP to make it win.

On the employment generation issue, BJP is trying its best to sell hard its two pronged model of employment and development: one argues that jobs have been created in both the public and private sectors to be seen through the increasing investment in infrastructure projects that employ both the highly skilled, semi skilled and unskilled human resources, the increase in employment under the railways and IT sector and the like areas.

Secondly, it is arguing that employment does not mean only getting a salaried job; it also means self employment by benefitting from the Skill India and Mudra Yojna where, it says, the youth will not only be able to earn his or her decent living, he or she may also be in a position to create jobs for others too. How far this politically rich and socially convincing, if one can say so, advertisement will go is only for the time to tell, but the party is certain  that its performance on account of development and change is a guarantee for getting back the reign again.

The Opposition is also in a full swing to discredit the ruling BJP both in the states ready for polls at the year end and for 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The electoral strategy, as is known, evolved by the opposition is also twofold: one, it has conclusively agreed to the view that no political party can singularly defeat BJP either in the Assembly elections or in the elections to Parliament. So they all have decided to jointly try to pull the political strings from beneath the BJP, ignoring their disparate and ideological rivalry.

So the talks about stitching a Maha Gathbandhan of parties like Congress, SP,BSP (which has now caused a setback to the move with its alliance with Ajit Jog’s party in Chhatishgarh), TMC, RJD, Telgu Desam, DMK, RLD, BLD and the like. Secondly, the united opposition is laying its focus on what it terms as utter governance failures of the BJP.

In this, the Congress led united opposition front, excluding some regional political parties like TRS and BJD and some other splinter groups articulating the most backward sections voices, is trying its best to dethrone BJP  for its failures to deliver on its promises like bringing back black money( though put on the back burner for the time being), the adverse impacts of demonetization and GST on the common man, the increase in crimes against women, the Dalits and the Muslims, rising prices of petrol and diesel, the agrarian unease, etc.

While all these issues are of high significance with a potential to weigh with the voter within the perspective of deliverables and good governance, and deserve an intensive debate and incisive analysis, the question still is whether the opposition campaign is creating any ripples in the minds of the target groups politically. Answer is difficult to supply without reservations. The opposition propaganda fails to carry conviction while BJP has been effective in sending a message about the negative role of the congress and her allies, some even describe it as anti nation and anti poor, inside the parliament and outside in accusing and abusing the security forces, its stand on Urban Naxals and support to JNU students shouting slogans favouring dividing and breaking India.

Moreover, the BJP has come out with data establishing the achievement of the intended goals of the measures like demonetization and GST, the scale notwithstanding. The congress is under specific radar of the party for calling the Army Chief names or questioning the genuineness of surgical strike or meeting the ambassador of China when India was face to face with the Chinese army in Doklam or the leaders of the congress urging Pakistan to help it in removing Modi from power besides refreshing the memory of the citizens about the corrupt rule of the Congress days and how it has unleashed policy driven legal and administrative onslaught on corruption and black money and how the laws like the Benami transaction prevention Act or the Insolvency Act framed by the BJP led NDA has changed the minds of tax evaders, fraudsters and black marketers.

In sum, both the opposition and the ruling political dispensations are engrossed in discrediting each other. But the big question remains: Whether political advertising sense credibility and truth will be enough to win the electoral war of Assembly as well as of the Lok Sabha.

(The writer is a senior political and social scientist having been associated with Delhi University, IGNOU and IIPA)

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