You don't need to be a supporter of the BJP, the Congress — or any political party, for that matter — to know what’s at stake in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The bugles have been blown. It's war.
Elections are the lifeline of politicians in India. And the conscientious preparations and efforts put in by them for elections rival military warfare. What sets the ball rolling is the election campaign.
This is India's Game of Thrones. The “King” and the “Crown Prince” are up against each other and nothing matters more than impressive speeches and a confident body language that can pull the crowd.
During the 2014 elections, PM Modi evolved and established himself as one of the best orators India has seen. From Parliament to Independence Day, from election campaigning to all major global meets, Modi has been unstoppable. His jumlas grab all the attention and he has made hard-hitting speeches. His body language has been confident and he has left an impact on both the classes and the masses.
He made people believe in him and his fan base multiplied manifold. He brought the entire nation together and as proud Indians, our chests swelled with pride.
As PM Modi entered the political coliseum, the Opposition was left biting the dust.
The only question troubling everyone was: Who in the Opposition has the guts to take on the Prime Minster himself. After all, no guts, no glory...
Is the “Crown Prince” ready for the throne? (Photo: DailyO)
The youth brigade pinned its hopes on Rahul Gandhi — the obvious successor to the throne — not just because he is a political scion, but also because he had to take the onus of filling the vacuum in the party; a vacuum created long ago, after the death of his father Rajiv Gandhi.
But is the “Crown Prince” ready for the throne?
During much of his childhood and early youth, he stayed away from the public sphere. With degrees in International Relations and Development Studies from Rollins and Cambridge, joining Indian politics was not one of the options. But life had some other plans for him. In 2004, he joined politics and by 2013, was elected the Vice-President of the Congress. The year 2017 saw him as the President of INC.
The 2014 General Elections were a reality check.
Despite Gandhi leading the Congress campaign, a dismal performance by the party and a landslide victory for Modi changed the game. Congress came down to only 44 seats from 206 in 2009. It was a different ball game for the Congress scion. The challenge was not only to up the game of the party, but to develop the skills to fight the “war of words” and take on the PM himself.
It was a test of his communication and conversation skills. Lengthy speeches, slamming the government — especially PM Modi — is what Rahul began with. But it was a time when “Modi Sarkar” chants filled the air and no one was ready to listen to anything against him. Rahul was slammed, trolled and called “Pappu”. His POA failed and he was left wondering what the way out was.
“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” — Edith Head.
Once considered one of the most eligible bachelors in India, Rahul Gandhi has always been spotted in attires that best suit the day. Now almost always seen in his crisp white kurta-pyjama, he often combines it with a bomber jacket. Outside the political arena, he has been seen donning classy T-shirts and trousers and polo necks. Once, he even drew flak for donning an expensive Burberry jacket. But his immaculate dressing has definitely won many hearts.
PM Modi has been trendy too, and impressed fashionistas across the world. His monogrammed suit, pin-striped shawl, BJP-style Pashmina have made many heads turn. He donned a T-shirt and trousers equally well. Not to forget his saffron “safa” with a long trail that he sports every Independence Day. A total sartorial experience — and all this he carries with a lot of panache.
Modi's presense is a total sartorial experience. (Photo: PTI)
In terms of body language, though Rahul Gandhi has a calm demeanour, he does not display much confidence.
He comes across as the new student in the class, who isn't sure of his readiness for the exams. His sitting posture is too casual, and never sends out the message: ‘I am here to rule’. His vulnerability always allows the Opposition to get the better of him, and his restlessness often displays reluctance. In fact, his mother Sonia Gandhi is often seen giving him directions.
But there is a silver lining. He connects well with the masses and exudes warmth and affection. He has been seen visiting villages, sitting on the ground with farmers and sharing meals.
It might have seemed funny, but during the No-Confidence motion debate in the Parliament, his hug for PM Modi sent out a message of love and peace. Experts commented that the wink after the hug took the charm away, but the Twitterati loved him. Hands down he had won this one and left the PM stunned.
His speeches are often termed “empty”. They seem scripted and mugged-up, and sometimes factually incorrect too. In all his face-offs with the PM, he has never left any impact. He never looks promising and never comes across as the one who is here to stay. But on the day of the No-Confidence debate, we finally heard and saw what we had been waiting for all this while. A leader who never faltered. A hard-hitting speech, with the right pauses, Hinglish dialect that connected with the masses, emotions intact, and, for once, authentic and extempore. He teased the PM saying, “You can call me Pappu, but I don't hate you”. He came out with a sharp attack and with the hug, left the PM statue-like. Always the butt of all jokes, he ridiculed all of them and how.
He sent out a clear message that he is here to stay — “You can hate me, you can love me but you cannot ignore me”. His party cadres now know that their leader and motivator has arrived for good.
But you can trust PM Modi to hit back, and hit back hard. In his 5th Independence Day speech, the PM left no stone unturned to prove that he is the master of the game. An upright posture that exuded nothing but confidence and command. This was well balanced with a speech peppered with dialogues that struck an emotional chord with every proud Hindustani.
He beautifully amalgamated empathy, compassion, politics, poetry and his achievements, and balanced it out with quick comparisons with previous governments. In fact, the PM easily reminded everyone of Vajpayee (probably the man from whom he picked his skillful oratory).
He touched upon sensitive issues such as farmers, the triple talaq Bill, development of women, and came out with flying colours. And amid all this, he clearly declared war (elections 2019). There was no hue and cry at all on Pakistan or China, but a gentle reminder and a message — that he is coming back in 2019.
Except during the No-Confidence debate in Parliament, PM Modi has been pretty consistent and successful in his dialogue delivery. In comparison, Rahul Gandhi has shown some sparks here and there, but rest ended up being lackluster.
As for us mere mortals, we can only wait and watch who wins battle 2019.