- Arun Jaitley
Leader of Opposition (Rajya Sabha)
The results of the State Assembly elections were declared over a month ago. There is a significant shift in the agenda of national politics since then.
Prior to 13th September,2013, when the BJP declared Narendra Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate, doubts were being raised about BJP’s ability to put its house in order and declare a Prime Ministerial candidate. The post Narendra Modi declaration witnessed a huge support for Modi. The Party cadres and the support base have been hugely enthused. His personal ratings as Prime Ministerial candidate have touched a record high. The results of the assembly elections on 8th December, 2013 indicated that Modi versus Rahul debate was being overstated. Both Modi and the BJP had a decisive edge. The Delhi election witnessed the emergence of Aam Aadmi Party as a new challenger. In the last one month, the Aam Aadmi Party has occupied a large part of media and mind space. It is a party born out of a reaction. Political hopefuls who have in the past contested elections without a party platform have queued up to join the new party. Some of the recruits have traditionally received more air-time than actual votes. Today, they have found a platform for their aspirations.
The AAP’s Delhi Government’s performance post the results has not been too inspiring. It has no agenda to evolve Delhi into a global city. Its Delhi activities have centered around the vehicles in which the Ministers travel, kind of houses they occupy, the freebies that they can distribute, how to sting people and other similar activities intended to occupy media centre stage. Some of these symbolisms may be important but they do not improve the quality of life of the ordinary citizens. These gimmicks do not have a lasting impact. However, no one can deny that at least transiently there is a space in several parts of the country for the new outfit.
The AAP is trying to alter the corruption agenda. There is no reference to corruption allegations which can embarrass the Congress. The CWG scam, the 2G spectrum allocation, Coal block allocation or corruption of the Sheila Dixit Government are not mentioned by it. It is deflecting the attention to petty corruption.
A random poll taken by a leading newspaper was based on a small sample and a limited class. The poll conveys three messages. The most important message is that the Congress is being squeezed out of the contest for the Lok Sabha elections. The second message is that the AAP is making its presence felt. Third, that Modi’s choice for Prime Minister is miles ahead in his national acceptability.
The challenge before the BJP is to consolidate its gains. Its candidates and organizational structure should inspire confidence through its credibility. With Congress getting squeezed out, the BJP is the front runner. It has to increase its pace of activity and penetrate into every house. The ‘Modi for Prime Minister’ campaign has to be blended with the ‘agenda for India’. That agenda must necessarily be specific, clear and comprise of big ideas. The big ideas have an ability to eclipse a new party which has a narrow focus only on petty corruption. Needless to say that the journey of the Congress in the recent past has been from arrogance towards extinction. Never has the Congress’s prime ministerial candidate’s rating been so low. Its senior leaders are a despondent lot. Its strategy of promoting AAP in Delhi has only led AAP to occupy the Congress space. There is hardly a State where the Congress is capable of improving its tally for the Lok Sabha. Its final tally may touch a surprising rock bottom.
The constituency of Anti-BJP activists have lost hope in the Congress. They are shifting their inclination towards the new outfit. Who benefits from the Congress eclipse? For us in the BJP this is a rare opportunity which we cannot hope to miss. In Narendra Modi the BJP has the most acceptable Prime Ministerial candidate. The Party and its leader must now convey its’ big idea of the future agenda for India.