Prime Minister Narendra Modi dominates the politics of India the way that no other figure has in decades. The current national political discourse is for or against Modi, with little else in between.
There is no Opposition figure who can compare with him in stature, experience or presence.
The Opposition agenda is an anti-Modi campaign, now becoming more shrill as a hate Modi campaign, not a campaign in favour of another candidate. Opposition leaders are attacking Modi and trying to discredit his agenda without offering any positive image or agenda of their own.
Since his landslide election in 2014, Narendra Modi has gained worldwide respect for his policy of making India strong economically, diplomatically and militarily. The Modi government’s ability to skillfully dominate a Canadian PM who had not been favouring India in his policies is a good sign of India’s new prestige.
India is now part of the Quad, an alliance of US, Australia, Japan and India against China. The diplomatic discourse has changed from Indo-Pak under UPA to Indo-Pacific under Modi. The USA is now restricting aid to Pakistan, owing to its support of terrorism, for which India remains the main target.
India’s economy has proved more difficult to change, though Modi has brought about significant improvements. He inherited an India from UPA rule in which almost every major institution was bankrupt and many were reeling under corruption.
Modi has not been able to entirely drain the swamp of this deep-seated Congress and Left ecosystem. But he has put a painful dent on their operations and their long-standing conviction that they own India. He has put the government back to work after years of lethargy.
The Opposition is getting desperate, feeling that another five years of Modi’s administration may finish them off. Having lost their bungalows, black money and under scrutiny for their benami properties, avoidance of paying taxes, and taking money out of the country, wealthy Opposition leaders who flourished in the era of UPA corruption now have strong personal and family agendas against Modi. The same is true of the old Congress-Leftist mainstream media, whose power has been significantly eroded by a pro-Modi social media and new media outlets.
The Opposition is trying to rally around Rahul Gandhi as the newly elected/appointed president of the Congress party. The previous dominant leader of the Opposition, Nitish Kumar, joined the Modi backed NDA, damaging their unity and credibility, while Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was often their favourite media image, has gone back to jail. Kejriwal, who served as another media idol for the anti-Modi agenda has lost all credibility.
The Congress party that Rahul now leads has its rule reduced to a few states, not having won a significant election in years. The only state of consequence the party has won is Punjab, but credit goes to Amarendra Singh, not to Rahul who was kept out of the campaign.
Rahul brings with him the baggage of the previous UPA government that Modi badly defeated, including its old worn figureheads like Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram and Mani Shankar Aiyar, who hardly inspire any confidence. This risks a twofold danger.
The first is to make the contest a replay of NDA versus UPA, which will only remind the voter of the massive scams and corruption under previous UPA rule. The second is making the election into a Rahul Gandhi versus a Narendra Modi affair.
The problem is that Rahul has little stature of his own, much less compared to Modi. In addition, his endurance for such a long campaign without his usual vacations or embarrassing misstatements remains in doubt. If the election boils down to a Rahul versus Modi contest, Rahul certainly becomes very vulnerable.
The recent willingness of the Opposition to rally around Rahul is not a sign of Rahul’s maturity, which has yet to be proven, but their desperation to counter Modi, who is threatening their own power centers and vote banks.
Nevertheless, politics moves quickly and unexpected events inside India or globally can have unpredictable consequences. There are state elections coming up where BJP has anti-incumbency factors and where Rajasthan may prove vulnerable. Yet Karnataka, the largest Congress-ruled state, is also in danger of falling to the BJP.
In any case, the hate Modi agenda is rising and creating its own media, but can easily discredit itself without a positive leader or agenda of its own. The fact is that India under Modi is a force to reckon with in the world, unlike the previous UPA and its shadow government. In addition, Narendra Modi is always ready for the challenge and generally thinks one step ahead of his Opposition.
No doubt he has a number of surprises that will show his ability both to lead the country and spearhead a new campaign. It is bound to be a long dramatic election season, but Modi will likely prevail, perhaps more easily than expected. There remains no viable alternative that anyone can have confidence in.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)