Elections to the Himachal Pradesh Assembly will be held on November 9. Understandably, the campaign is picking up heat with the propaganda machinery, including print and electronic media besides private entities, minting money by carrying advertisements of various political parties and individual candidates.
However, there seems to be no match to BJP's marketing machinery, which is being managed by a professional agency from Delhi. The Congress, too, will surely push the pedal soon, but it remains to be seen if it can withstand the "Modi narrative" that has been drummed up by the BJP to raise the decibel of its poll campaign.
The BJP's much-publicised narrative of "vikas" (development) is quite intriguing. While the party is trumpeting Modi rule as better, or should we say best, governance, this may boomerang on the saffron party for two obvious reasons:
1) In the past three years, contrary to Modi's "acche din" promises during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, there have been clear signs of the government's failure on various fronts. The BJP's development narrative has been punctured by none other than the Gujarati community itself. Social media in Gujarat is abuzz with 'Vikas gando thayo chhe' (development has gone crazy) which punctures holes in BJP's claim of development in Modi's home state.
Amid all this, will the party be able to catch the imagination of the people with the same narrative?
2) In Himachal Pradesh, unlike Delhi - where the Aam Aadmi Party lost the municipal elections in a direct "competition" between the chief minister of Delhi and PM Modi - has a somewhat different political history. And the BJP’s effort to weave its campaign entirely around Modi may not help.
If you look at the state's history, Himachal - from a predominantly backward mountain state - has seen impressive achievements since 1970s in the field of education, health, social infrastructure, tourism etc. There was a rapid development acceleration till the 1990s. But the performance in the post-economic reforms period hasn't been very positive in the state.
The failure of successive state governments is another reason why neither BJP nor Congress could be in power for consecutive terms. So, ideally it's anti-incumbency which plays a more important role than "promises of development".
The BJP in Himachal, instead of building an alternative narrative to the Congress politics, has focused on Modi. But the state will not be governed by the PM. This poll tactic of the BJP also undermines the potential of the local leadership. Of course, there is no denying that the party has gained to make some serious inroads into other states with similar campaigns weaved around Modi.
Will the BJP succeed in doing the same in Himachal Pradesh too? Only time will tell.