Thursday, March 30, 2023

UCC, cults to cast vote magic, emotion not economy-goal 2024

Shivaji Sarkar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spells a magic with record victory of 156 Gujarat seats for the BJP as he toils hard with Amit Shah. Now it may be an intense Hindu makeover surpassing the economy to continue the spree till 2024 Lok Sabha poll
The party prefers to go beyond the economics and politics. It is setting the agenda for an open debate before the poll process begins in February 2023. The BJP starts methodical work to pave the pitch for the national elections to be preceded by elections to nine state assemblies and four with the Lok Sabha.
The economic rhetoric of five trillions would remain there as it was also in Gujarat for a state GDP of one trillion, though it could not create the mood that the party may have liked. That led its leaders to walk the extra – 50 km and 10 km patch for the astounding victory. The magic attraction of Modi finally did the trick as also party’s capability to muster over 16 lakh people at the polling stations in a jiffy in the second phase on December 5. The party’s financial and manpower strength virtually wiped out the opposition parties, particularly the Congress and the AAP.
An issueless poll makes the BJP job tougher as the Gujarat, Himachal and Delhi MCD elections testify. The 2024 once again may not be contested on economic blueprints as it is not easy to make it a reality in an inflation and recession-hit world economy torn by wars, sanctions, low or little growth and millions of jobless. India may be doing better with over 6 percent growth, but it may not be enough to lure voters or provide work to the needy.
The G20 presidentship would be utilised to penetrate 50 venues in states with 200 meets starting from J&K. But recreating a Gujarat phenomenon all over the country though not impossible has a cost on the party cadre and leaders. It did not work in Himachal and Delhi. The BJP proceeds with cafeteria approach of campaigning. It would be different in each of the nine states in 2023 in North East – Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura; South – Karnataka, Telangana; centre – Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and west – Rajasthan.
Andhra, Arunachal, Odisha and Sikkim are likely to go to polls with the Lok Sabha elections in April 2024.
The controversies, the BJP poll organisers know, are vote catchers. It may again gamble on polarisation, population or the divide with unique packs in each state.
It has almost now centred on Uniform Civil Code (UCC) to create a waive all over the country. The discussion on the issue of personal laws touches almost all Indians. That gives an opportunity to woo communities and widen the divide. A small instance with larger import was witnessed in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, December 9, with introduction of a private member’s bill by BJP MP, Kirodi Lal Meena. He demanded a panel to prepare and implement the UCC. It divides the house. Expectedly the Congress, TMC, DMK, CPI-M, CPI, IUML, MDMK, Samajwadi Party and RJD lodged strong protests amid uproar.
The chairman Jagdeep Dhankar called for division and the motion was cleared with 63 votes in favour and 23 against. The controversy officially begins.
Yes, despite controversies, the UCC has become the next major agenda and vote drawer. The adage that BJP is always on campaign mode becomes a reality. It takes precedence over the union budget preparations, allocations or populist moves that a government puts on the agenda. Each state is likely to have different allocations for high sounding programmes for appeal to the local populace. Bullet, Vande Bharat trains, small airports and similar feats would be on the popular agenda. The UCC would be garnished with the population control policy for sharpening the campaign.
If the BJP concentrates on scrapping the junking of ten-year-new cars, started by UPA-Congress, in all the states, it would touch the heart of several crore people and families. It can be a game changer as Switzerland has taken the first step to do away with improper tech electricity guzzler electric vehicles – EV. Seething anger against the forced junking of cars and tractors is witnessed among kisans of UP, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Punjab and several other states.
It is being touted as a move of the automobile lobby to boost sales hit by low sales during covid19 and even before. The authorisation of major car makers to lift the ten-year cars is causing commotion and discontent even among the party workers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi might move differently than Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, a vocal supporter of car junking.
Once again there may be freebies or not, the free food dole is likely to get an extension till the Lok Sabha polls along with many other programmes for the tribals, and disadvantaged groups. The programme is likely to be extended to May 2024, in phases.
The minorities are to be given special favour in allotments of PM Avas Yojana houses, jobs in EWS quota, allocations to religious schools, madrasas and some other programmes. It is interesting to note that backward minority communities are gradually being attracted to the Hindu party. The subtle campaigning among minority groups of different religions by RSS leader Indresh Kumar has caught the fancy.
The minority denominated constituencies in the North East, Telangana, Andhra and Karnataka would be approached by party cadre for the next one year continuously to lure them to vote for the BJP. It is in touch with different churches. Various programmes tailored for each of the states is aimed at swinging the mood for the saffron party. The approach, packaging and methods are special to each state concentrating on welfare and the popular imaging.
The local religious icons too would be projected in many ways. In Arunachal, Donyi-Polo – Sun-Moon temple is getting keen attention. Modi opened the Donyi-Polo airport sometime back. Nagaland is varied and so are other states in the region. A RSS leader says that the sangh had been catering to NE tribals groups for decades.
The novel campaign plank has been designed to surpass the economic issues and capture the electorate imagination to win over the elections with a mix of emotions, connect and divide to perpetuate its rule till 2047 or centenary of Independence.

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