Modi faces tough challenges in his second term

By TN Ashok. Dated: 5/27/2019 12:25:26 AM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hoisted the BJP led NDA to a landslide victory winning over 300 plus seats (nearly 20 more than 2014) for his party alone and with allies is set to have a brute majority of 350 seats plus thus creating amass hysteria among the crushed opposition of Congress and Mahagatbhandan of regional parties fearing that the country could slip into a state of autocracy. Only Rajiv Gandhi holds the record of about 400 seats riding on a sympathy wave of his mother Indira Gandhi's assassination, notwithstanding the anti-Sikh riots that killed hundreds and hundreds.
There were no major issues in the elections in 2019 as in 2014 where Modi rode the crest of an anti-corruption drive hijacked from AAP. Congress under a new aggressive President Rahul Gandhi tried its best to reverse the kickbacks in Bofors gun deal with alleged stupendous payouts in Rafale deal to Anil Ambani, but it did not cut much ice with the people. Mahagatbhandhan of SP BSP and other regional parties focused on caste polities of swaying the dalits and lower caste. That too did not cut much ice with the people.
2019 elections were won on clever strategies where the opposition lost out to weak strategy. BJP President Amit Shah and PM Modi very well knew the odds were stacked against them, the Rafale deal where nearly Rs 30k crore was allegedly doled out to an inexperienced so called defence expert, Anil Ambani's twin cos Reliance Aerospace and Defence, growth rate was chugging, Current Account Deficit was rising as exports slid, unemployment was rising, Make in India made little headway to create jobs, inflation was so- so, demonetisation and GST had crushed the cash strapped economy and yet the duo cleverly crafted a strategy that would sway the vote banks.
One was Modi took advantage of his personal charisma and twitterati serving as a direct connect with the people, put National Security on the front bench with the surgical strikes and Balakote bombings creating a fear of war among the people with Pakistan and that he had crushed it in the bud, and made people think that they were Indians first and their caste came second - the Hindu card was played well to polarise the votes again against the Thakurs, Brahmans, yadavs, dalits and lower caste factors that led to the SP+BSP alliance bombing. West Bengal CM' Mamta Banerjee's roughshod way of running the state , stealing the once allegedly corrupt cpi-m musclemen from the communist cadres, went against her and she gifted 14 seats to the BJP, which held massive rallies in the state.
Amit Shah ensured that the assembly reverses suffered in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were reversed. Reverse he did by over riding state leadership in all the states including the so called arrogant former Rajasthan CM Ms Vijay Raje Scindia by rejecting their list of candidates and fielding atleast 50 new faces in each of the state and thus recovered lost ground. Rajasthan was a slean sweep for BJP.
BJP is still remains a North Indian party, unlike the Congress, which ruled the country for 60 odd years in a 70 year independent India history, which enjoyed a vote bank in south Indian states too until the language issue and neglect of their demands pulled the rug from under their feet by the rise of regional aspirations leading to growth of regional parties - DMK and AIDMK in south, congress has to ride piggy back on either of them, TDP in undivided Andhra and now TRS in Telengana, JDS in Karnataka , UDF in Kerala, BJD in Odisha.
While BJP supporters and their outfits may be gloating over their victories in the 2019 polls where allies have no role at all, a disintegrated opposition, there is a clear and present danger of the hindutva brigade pushing its agenda of safforinism, Ram Mandir, Kashi issue, conversions, that could now let the promoters come to the streets fearlessly. An internal threat looms large and PM needs to appoint a strong home minister, most likely Amit Shah shifting Raj Nath Singh to the party president ship, but RSS cadres want Shah to continue.
The strong 18 to 40 demographic dividend in that age group, which is enamoured by Modi's hindutva and charisma and strong leadership but thinks secondary are economic ills is the main reason for the 2nd landslide win of the BJP. From their perspective its right. We are a Hindu majority state after all with little say and Muslims and Hindus have personally cohabited peacefully, albeit some external interventions by different political parties that need not be named for narrow electoral gains.
In the five year rule of Modi there was no major attack by terrorists of civilian targets, but only military targets, no major corruption barring the alleged Rafale deal, highways were literally speeding under Gadkari with 10kms of road construction every day against UPAs tortoise one km a day, terrorist funding was cut with demonetisation, and GST made taxation uniform troughout the country making movement of goods faster and easier, even though initially they got the slabs all wrong.
And this has largely gone down well with the people, healthcare programme such as Ayushman Bharat and Ujjwal Yojana of free gas connections to the poorer strata became massive vote winners. The biggest worry for the BJP should be that the south still remains cut off from the north, a looming danger of an unnamed balkanisation of North India vs South India. Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh and add to it Odisha, West Bengal and a troubled Jammu and Kashmir is cold comfort for Modi. He has made inroads into the bastion of didi's Bengal. He lost TamilNadu, but apparently rides on an uncertain Jagan Reddy in Andhra and Chandrasekhar's TRS in Telengana.
The North South divide is clear. BJP is strongest in UP, MP, HP, Delhi, in the north and in the west Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra - that makes it the 7 Hindi heartland states stacked against 7 non BJP states, a tie. IN T20parlance, We need a super over in 2024 to decide this issue.
Modi has many challenges. Putting the economy back in order, kick starting the manufacturing process, keeping inflation and CAD under control, putting money in the hands of businessmen and traders in a cash strapped economy, the digital economy has not succeeded but only largely in the urban elite, and on top of this the brute majority poses the danger of rise of an alleged safforonism and Hindutva brigade bringing issues to the streets that could create law and order problems.
Modi is aggressive, has charisma, strong man image, energy to travel to make India known to far corners of the world, has a tight grip on administration but woefully lacks a strong team of ministers. If Amit Shah can lead the party well, Modi today needs a strong team especially an astute Finance Minister (not a yes man), a robust Defence and Home Minister, and an aggressive External affairs Minister, if he gets them, the game is up for the opposition. But for Modi this is like searching for needles in a haystack. He is still struggling to find them.
To conclude, former US President Barack Obama asked Modi how many hours of sleep he got in ruling a divergent India and the reply was four hours. Obama said I also slept for four hours in my first term but in my 2nd term I sleep for five hours now. But Modi does not have that luxury; he has to sleep for one hour less, only three hours if he has to come to grips with the dangers of external aggression( which he has done successfully), internal aggression and a devastated economy. 2nd term is a rough ride for Modi, but he is capable of riding it well with his oratory skills and swaying the masses, even if he achieves 50% of the targets with a very strong publicity machinery
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