MODI’S THREE MIS­TAKES

India Today - - SIGNATURE - KAVEREE BAMZAI

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.

SAU­RABH SINGH / www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

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