2024 is not 2004 wait till 4th June

Date:

(Dr Pentapati Pullarao)

2024 is not 2004 There are many claims that like the surprise upset of BJP in 2004, in 2024, there will be a surprise result in 2024 parliament elections and BJP may not get a majority. In a complex country like India, it is difficult to predict the general election results. Every election after Nehru died in 1963 has been a surprise.

Even in 2019, the oppositions said that the BJP will lose and pointed out that in December 2023, the BJP lost the 3 state governments of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. But in 2019, the BJP won with an increased margin. In 2004, Vajpayee was prime minister. But his government was a minority government, having won only 182 MPs in 1999 and dependent on allies. Vajpayee made the mistake that his government was a total success and launched a highly advertised campaign called “India shining “as if India was already prosperous. The ‘India Shining “campaign of BJP led even BJP members to believe that things were wonderful. So confident were BJP and Vajpayee that they even went for early elections. But the 2004 shocked all and BJP went down to 138 MPs and Congress got 145 MPs and with its allies formed the UPA government. Now the Opposition is hoping for such a miracle in 2024! Narendra Modi has been in power for 10 years, there is definitely anti-incumbency and staleness about the central ministers. The Modi government has achieved many successes. But there have been many disappointments.

Difficulties for Modi Government: There is more unity in the opposition, Due to the unwise policy of BJP attacking, Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee, they have joined Congress, which was their bitter rival. Failures in agriculture, un-employment and inflation are some other problems for the BJP. The enormous increase of “freebies “by non-BJP governments have swayed voters in their states. People want freebees and not governance. Modi government also introduces laws hastily without discussions, which cause public anger. Politics when Vajpayee lost in 2004:

a. When BJP lost in 2004, the non-BJP parties-controlled state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab, Delhi, etc. The BJP did not win many MPs in such states.

b. Vajpayee was the first BJP prime minister, who was heading a Minority government. So, Vajpayee could not act decisively.

c. The BJP under Vajpayee threw out most of its allies before 2004 election, as it was over-confident that it could win 300 MPs on its own. The BJP in 2004 evicted the DMK, Haryana Chautala party, Assam Gana Parishad, Shibu Soren Party in Jharkhand and many small parties in the northeast and elsewhere. This was the biggest mistake of Vajpayee.

d. There was constant terrorist activity in Kashmir and elsewhere. Since USA was dependent on Pakistan, as it was fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, the USA sided with Pakistan.

e. During Vajpayee’s time, there was also the Siachen war between India and Pakistan in 2003. It cost India 1000 lives and harmed the image of Vajpayee government.

f. Like other regional parties and Congress had coteries controlling the leadership. Similarly, coteries formed during Vajpayee’s time, and this discouraged the BJP workers, as they were ignored. This cost the BJP immensely in 2004 election.

How 2024 is different: 1. Modi is very lucky as ever since he became prime minister oil price remained low. This has given the economy a big boost.

2. Unlike Vajpayee, Modi got more allies for BJP. Modi realized that Vajpayee committed the fatal error of kicking out allies under the guidance of sycophants like Pramod Mahajan. Modi brought back strong allies like Karnataka Deve Gowda, Nitish Kumar, Chirag Paswan and others of Bihar.

3. Narendra Modi has also had successes in foreign affairs. Modi stood up to China and Pakistan and also attacked terrorists. In 10 years, Modi invested in defense forces and made India ready for a two-Front war with China and Pakistan at the same time.

4. Modi has extended welfare schemes, and they include crores of toilets, gas connections, bank accou8nts and generally lifted them out of poverty.

5. Modi vastly expanded infrastructure and new roads, airports, ports, rail lines, drinking water pipelines, big medical institutions, etc.  are visible. This has been un-precedented.

6. Modi has reduced the “coteries “in BJP and this has enthused BJP workers across the country and made them feel important. 7. During Vajpayee’s time, BJP was absent in Assam and Northeast, Odisha and Bengal. Now in these states, the BJP is a big force. Modi has also focused strongly on South India and BJP is growing in the south. How will 2024 be? The big setback for the BJP is that it went after regional parties like Kejriwal, Mamata Banerjee and KCR aimlessly. By attacking them, BJP has pushed them towards the Congress and made them allies. But the advantage is still with the BJP. However, in such a large country like India, with castes, different languages, religions, the mood will differ across the country. But unlike Vajpayee of 2004, Narendra Modi is a big, gigantic figure. Modi’s charisma is intact and has grown. Yet, the biggest certainty in elections is that there is no certainty. Definitely, Modi of 2024 is far superior to the Vajpayee of 2004. The BJP of 2024 is also superior to the BJP of 2004. Modi and BJP leaders are canvassing endlessly and not complacent like Vajpayee was in 2004. But let us wait for June 4, 2024.

(Author is Political and Economic Analyst based in New Delhi)

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