Why Congress and Opposition have completely lost the plot
In 2014, the Indian National Congress was at pains to tell the Indians that Modi was nothing short of a monster, who, interestingly enough, despite a global and widespread campaign of falsehoods and misinformation on the riots in 2002 in Gujarat, had not been indicted by any of the courts. Not because he ran the Central Government or controlled the appointment of the judges. But because those who were hell bent on indicting him could bring forth no credible evidence. On the contrary, the lady who ran a campaign against Modi was indicted by the court for embezzlement of funds which were meant for the riot victims and pulled up for cooking up evidence!
How Modi became India
Despite the demonization and fake narratives, despite the fear mongering (Modi will divide the country, will marginalize the Muslims etc), and despite falsification his work as the Chief Minister, by Congress leaders and the media sympathetic to them, the grand old dynastic party could only win a paltry 44 seats in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014.
Throughout the 5 years of Modi’s rule, while he was performing and implementing what needed to be done, Congress and its eco-system spent their time on just one thing – Opposing Modi, even when it meant trashing and hurting India. Whether it was to join the Tukde-Tukde gang to encourage them or it was to further the Pakistani narrative and strategy in India on Surgical strikes, Pulwama and on Balakot, Congress and opposition stopped at nothing.
At which point Congress and opposition crossed over from opposing Modi to hurting India, probably even they did not realize. That the transition was so effortless, the road so easy is as much a statement on real soul of Congress as it is about what Modi means to India. The only way left to hit against Modi was to hit India.
When Congress’ rhetoric created an indistinguishable link between Modi and India because their arguments and narratives couldn’t distinguish between both, then they were installing Modi as a synonym of India.
Modi was becoming a personification of India, not because he tried so hard for it. But because in their hatred, anger and vengeance, Congress and the opposition forgot where Modi stopped and India began. They kept pushing their hatred and negativity.
The disconnect and Amit Shah’s Master-stroke
Meanwhile, Modi was delivering.
Not necessarily for the intelligentsia but for the poor. Gas cylinders, Electricity, Homes, Direct benefit transfer, bank accounts, toilets, health insurance and roads. Things were actually being delivered to people in a credible manner. For, later, Amit Shah – the brilliant BJP strategist – was to use that work to win people. You see when the elections came, all those who had received a free gas cylinder or a toilet were requested to share their experience with their friends and put a BJP flag on their house. Soon, the demand for BJP flags far outweighed the supply.
Yet, the English media and Congress were telling everyone that “Modi had done nothing.” We were told in excruciating details on how the economy was a mess and how jobs were not there. Even when one asked anyone and everyone one got in touch with across India on whether it was hard to get a job, no one complained.
So if no one was complaining about jobs and new workforce was joining every day, even when the Employment Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) data kept showing a record increase in new accounts which pointed to new jobs – then how come there was a job crisis?
But that rhetoric never stopped.
Strangely, things that were just not happening were being peddled as truth. Something that Amit Shah countered so brilliantly in the BJP flag move so that the Congress’ blatant falsehoods could be countered by the millions of beneficiaries on the ground.
Narratives were built. Debates set up. Dramas concocted.
Echo Chamber and the lost plot
Basis this remarkable closed echo chamber, the opposition was busy imagining an India that did not even exist. The astonishing level of entitlement from their own estimate of self worth made them define India and indeed the future in ways that were downright weird. Here is Yogendra Yadav – who likes to be known as an activist and has a background as a psephologist (one who predicts elections for a living!). Just listen to him.
Now, he, based on his own entitled belief systems was predicting a maximum of little less than 200, most likely tally of 170 and even a tally of 150 for BJP. Just hold that number in your mind. 170 or 150.
BJP got 303.
He was off by 100%! Or 80% in the most likely scenario.
If one had asked a bunch of chimps to choose BJP’s tally, there is a strong likelihood that they could have been closer to the actual result. That is how spectacularly off those who hated Modi have been from the very idea and indeed the soul of India.
During the whole election season, one found a strange dichotomy. While the Congress and its sympathizers amongst friends and known would be at pains to shout at every opportunity that the programs and schemes by Modi government had failed, almost every interview done by ordinary citizen-journalists in small towns and villages, even by Congress leaning journalists like Rajdeep Sardesai would bring out the reality from the people.
After the election ended and lost, there was another session of ranting and negativity to follow.
So now, the personality dominance theory. Listen to this interview of Shashi Tharoor with Rajdeep Sardesai. It is revealing and instructive. They are discussing if Rahul Gandhi should now resign or not and the reasons for Congress failure.
He laments how the elections in India have become “Presidential” in nature because they revolve around one man.
First Presidential election? Really?!
He forgets that during the times of JL Nehru and Indira Gandhi, they were the only planks that Congress had to fight the elections. By making Nehru as Chacha and using his birthday as the “Children’s Day”, the idea was to equate Nehru with India. Not because the opposition – completely fragmented and ineffective for most part – wanted, but because there was a conscious attempt. In fact, in case of Indira Gandhi, Congress leaders declared that “India is Indira and Indira is India”. Have we forgotten that?
Anyone who has grown up in the 1970s and 80s with the new TV transmission coming in will remember that the entire Doordarshan news was only about Indira Gandhi. There was precious little else in it.
So where did this idea of the first Presidential election come up in Tharoor’s mind? Heck, every election fought by Congress was ALWAYS about a personality and a Presidential election. Whether it was Nehru, Indira or Rajiv Gandhi.
The only difference this time around was that Modi became the central issue and the main topic. Not because that was his main strategy. But because the opposition made him a target. Ever since 2002, he has been the main target for Congress specifically and opposition in general. From the time that a campaign was run to deny him visa to US to the time of “Chowkidar Chor hai”.
Modi will not let you caricature him!
The entire politics by the Congress – from 2002’s falsehoods to Rafale’s fake campaign – has been about targeting Modi somehow. When someone is installed as the only real issue in nation, is it any wonder that when he delivers on the ground and pushes you back, he becomes larger than life?
Of course, Modi comes with an almost superhuman ability to withstand the insults, the humiliation and the targeting that goes on against him. And, yet deliver. In an indiscriminate way. Without prejudice or bias. After all, the community that most benefited from Tata Nano move in Gujarat was the Muslim community where small poor farmers became millionaires within 5 years. All thanks to the initiative of Modi to bring Nano to Gujarat from Bengal.
So many BJP karyakartas and RSS people have been killed by the Secularists in a violence born of “righteous hatred and bigotry”. Yet, that hasn’t meant that he targets those communities or people. Law needs to take its course, although it doesn’t many times, when the BJP or RSS or Hindus in general are victims. But that has not changed his focus on development.
And, this is what Congress and others do not get.
They are up against someone who is disciplined, focused, unwavering to his goal of India first and one who is aggressive as well as strong in his ways. He will not lose his way nor will he let others hurt him.
Meanwhile, all those who – for their own amusement and strategic exercises – reduce him to a caricature of their own imagination, something that he is not, will continue to miss the plot. Modi is not who lets others define him. He is the most effective communicator and interlocutor when it comes to what he stands for and what his party is about. Any attempt to define him and caricature him has fallen flat. And will.
As will any predictions and strategies based on those caricatures. No amount of falsification by narratives can dent the reality on the ground.