MODI’S THREE MISTAKES
The guns are loaded. The target is ready. The spectators are waiting to applaud. So why is Narendra Modi not firing? That is a question that gladdens the hearts of Congress leaders and makes BJP wonder whether they have backed the right man with right plan. What are the three mistakes Modi has made, even as he focusses on his speeches?
He hasn’t set up his own secretariat in Delhi: A general needs an army. And an army needs a headquarters. As long as Modi continues to function out of Gandhinagar with his assorted band of retired IAS officials and young IT wizards, he will remain the man who tells India what is wrong but not what he can do right. For now people are listening patiently to his enumeration of UPA’s woes. Soon, that won’t be enough. Modi has to take a deep breath, leave Gujarat to Anandiben Patel, and take the battle to Raisina Hill. The 19 election campaign sub- committees still don’t have a timeline or an election plan. Nor is there a schedule for ticket distribution. The move to Delhi will also allow him to work on his most critical failure— his inability to win friends and influence people. He needs to stitch up his pre- poll alliances, and to convince cynics that he can be a wider coalition leader.
He hasn’t declared his candidacy from Uttar Pradesh: If he has to win Uttar Pradesh, he has to declare that Barkis is willing. He has to show that his party is able to provide an alternative to Samajwadi Party ( SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party ( BSP). And he has to do so by highlighting local issues, since those alone matter in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. That is how Rahul Gandhi won in 2009, because he took on SP and BSP on their own home turf. Voters thought he was serious about improving law and order in the state. In fact, Uttar Pradesh is not the caste conundrum that everyone claims it to be. There is a convergence that goes beyond caste identity. In the 2007 Assembly polls, Mayawati won because
BSP promised deliverance on the law and order front but promptly inducted criminals. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi challenged both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati and the Congress’s 25 MLAs were converted into 22 MPs— he was soon to disappoint and go AWOL from the state. In 2012, SP won because Akhilesh Yadav came without the dogma of Mulayam Singh Yadav, the law and order embarrassment of D. P. Yadav and the antics of Amar Singh.
Modi hasn’t declared a winning slogan: How many mixed messages have we heard from him already? On July 24, he said India needs a Congress- mukt Bharat nirman. On August 12, he mined Barack Obama and Swami Vivekananda ( take your pick) to say “Yes, we can, yes, we’ll do it”. Underlying all has been an echo of Hindutva. And on August 15, he said the country needs a nayi soch. But an election usually requires a simple idea that outlives voting— the losing India Shining or the winning Aam Aadmi. But the problem is both required a lot of thinking, planning and time for execution. If Modi is to get anywhere close to his magic figure of 200, which will apparently be the number that convinces prospective allies that he can form the government, he needs to start now. The Congress, under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership, has already established itself as the saviour of the suffering, bolstered by its passing of the Food Security Bill. What’s BJP’s magic bullet?
It won’t be easy. Icons have rarely swung Uttar Pradesh— Rahul Gandhi was the last to do so in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Modi may well have given Rahul and the Congress adequate time to do so all over again.
MODI HASN’T DECLARED A WINNING SLOGAN: HOW MANY MIXED MESSAGES HAVE WE HEARD FROM HIM ALREADY? ON JULY 24, HE SAID INDIA NEEDS A CONGRESS- MUKT BHARATNIRMAN. ON AUGUST 12, HE SAID “YES, WE CAN, YES, WE’LL DO IT”. ON AUGUST 15, HE ASKED FOR NAYI SOCH.