One cannot but admire BJP strategists for their astute approach in the crucial Maharashtra and Haryana assembly polls. Observe how Mr. Narendra Modi as the star campaigner has divided his time for criticizing his opponents in the multi-cornered contests. Mr. Modi’s criticism of other opposition parties though sharp is incidental. His main attack in both states is reserved for the Congress. Although in government in both states it is doubtful if poll results will place Congress among the first two parties. And yet the main BJP focus remains the Congress. The media unwittingly helps Mr. Modi by giving undue importance to the Congress. The vacuous attacks by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi keep alive the fiction assiduously nurtured by the BJP that the main contest is between BJP and Congress. This is deep and insightful strategy.
Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is the BJP’s trump card. Mr. Modi displays amazing energy, oratorical skill and dedication in his poll campaigns. He displayed these qualities during the general election and he is displaying these now in the assembly polls. But a cold and objective analysis of poll results would indicate that despite the huge crowds and the loud chants for Mr. Modi in his rallies the BJP scored spectacular results only against the Congress. Wherever BJP faced non-Congress opposition it was trounced – in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Andhra. Regional parties in these states achieved results against the main Congress opposition as spectacular as Mr. Modi’s accomplishment. The conclusion therefore is inescapable. There was less of the Modi wave and much more of the anti-Congress wave. The lone exception was Uttar Pradesh (UP) where two equally powerful regional parties bitterly opposed to each other with their respective leaders facing potential threats of corruption cases allowed BJP a thumping victory. However in the ensuing by-elections, including in UP, the regional parties, given Congress irrelevance, trounced the BJP.
That is why the BJP is very smart to keep alive Mrs. Sonia Gandhi as the main protagonist. There is so much public resentment against the Congress that it provides assured support to the BJP. Congress leaders are so bereft of self confidence that none among them can summon courage to challenge the Dynasty and revive their party. The Congress in the ultimate analysis is terminally sick not because of its leaders but because of the quality of their followers.
While BJP thrives on the anti-Congress wave the regional parties are woefully short of strategic sense to do the same. These parties mainly attack the BJP on its communal agenda. Were they to attack the Congress with full ferocity and demand its permanent burial they could project the BJP as a thinly disguised clone of the Congress. Cosmetic differences apart no fundamental policy difference in the economy or in politics separates them. True, the BJP could not stop the killing of Muslims and gained votes, while Congress could not stop the killing of Sikhs and gained votes. Is that a fundamental difference?