Question could be asked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi if he held a press conference at this moment — Is the 2024 Lok Sabha polls your last election?
The question is not for nitpicking. Narendra Modi is now 73 years old. Two years later, he will turn seventy-five. The BJP’s unwritten rules of the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah reign say that after entering the 75th, no ticket to fight in the polls can be found.
As such, even though he will be the Prime Minister of the country for the third time in Lok Sabha elections next year, that should be Narendra Modi’s last election.
Narendra Modi, however, does not hold press conferences. So the answer is far away, the question itself is not possible.
Even now he is busy campaigning for assembly elections in five states. If we assume that 2024 will be his last election as per rules, then these five state assembly elections will be the last exercise of ‘Modi magic’ before going to the battlefield for the last time.
There could be no better test than this to test whether the magic of ‘Modi magic’ is still valid or not, whether the BJP will survive the 24th Lok Sabha by relying on it or not.
The reason? Because this is the first time that only Narendra Modi is in the field for the BJP in the assembly elections of five states.
This is the first time that BJP’s hoarding-poster-banner does not feature any state leader’s face as BJP’s chief ministerial candidate alongside Modi.
This is the first time that Raman Singh is no longer the face of the BJP in Chhattisgarh. In Rajasthan, Bashundhara Raje is no longer the chief ministerial candidate. They are in the field. But not as a commander.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who was the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for 18 years, is also not given the responsibility of commander. He is also in the field.
But with other leaders of the party, mixed in the crowd. This is the first time that Narendra Modi is the only face of BJP against Ashok Gehlaut in Rajasthan, Bhupesh Baghel in Chhattisgarh, Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh or K Chandrasekhar Rao in Telangana.
Modi is campaigning saying that Padmaful Pratik is the only leader of the party.
On the other hand, this is the first time the Congress is entering the electoral fray after forming the opposition Alliance INDIA.
In all state elections, Congress’s main weapon is the misery of people due to Modi government’s fiscal policies. And many Congress guarantees like unemployment benefits, government jobs, half price cooking gas, farmer loan waiver, free medical treatment as a solution to the plight of our people.
The opposition camp has raised the demand for caste enumeration to prevent Modi from taking advantage of his OBC identity.
Modi refuses to accept it. He claimed the poor as the ‘greatest caste’. As he himself has come out of poverty, he has imposed both the identities of OBC and poor on himself.
The elections in these five states will also be the first test of the BJP’s Hindu vote bank intact versus the opposition’s caste politics. To keep the ‘Modi magic’,
Narendra Modi passed the Women’s Reservation Bill a few days ago. Whether he will get benefits or not, whether Modi’s women vote bank is intact, this time is also his first test.
After all, in these five states Modi has entered the field alone despite the high risk of a landslide.
Just as Rahul Gandhi is responsible for Congress’s defeat in any poll, Narendra Modi has not had to take responsibility for BJP’s defeat for so long.
When the BJP won the election, it was Modi who went to the party headquarters in Delhi and appeared in front of the workers-supporters and accepted the victory greetings.
But if the BJP loses, the blame falls on the state leaders, or JP Nadda as party president, or even Amit Shah. Even though the BJP failed to win the current state assembly polls on Narendra Modi, Modi’s effectiveness is not in question. But if the BJP does badly in five states this time, will the effectiveness of ‘Modi magic’ be questioned?
Definitely. After the BJP’s loss to the Congress in the Karnataka assembly elections, the mouthpiece of the RSS wrote that the state leadership of the BJP should be strengthened rather than just relying on the Prime Minister’s popularity.
Narendra Modi is walking the exact opposite path. He pushed the state leadership to the back row and entered the field using his popularity as a tool. He took up the challenge of proving the theory of RSS wrong.
If Narendra Modi failed, his followers might say, the outcome would have been worse if the state leaders had been trusted. But in reality, Modi’s fight will become tougher ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Mizoram — Narendra Modi faced a tough test in 2018 in these five state elections. In Telangana in the South or Mizoram in the Northeast, the BJP was not in any fight.
Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan – the BJP was ousted from power by losing to the Congress in all three states of the Hindi belt.
Narendra Modi’s real achievement was that he overturned the results of assembly polls in three states by going to the Lok Sabha polls.
Despite losing the assembly polls, the BJP won 9 of the 11 Lok Sabha seats in Chhattisgarh during the Lok Sabha polls. BJP won 28 out of 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh. Out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan, the BJP won 24, its partner one. The ruling Congress in the state could not win a single seat in the Lok Sabha.
Even from Telangana BJP won 4 seats. Just as the Congress-JD(S) government formed in Karnataka in early 2018, the BJP won 25 of the state’s 28 Lok Sabha seats during the Lok Sabha polls.
An independent candidate also won with the support of BJP. The ruling Congress, JD(S) had to be content with winning one seat each.
Narendra Modi did not campaign in Mizoram this time. Mizoram has only one Lok Sabha seat. To NDA’s partner party. BJP has 65 MPs in the remaining four states.
Among them, BJP has 61 MPs in three states of the Hindi belt. If we take the Karnataka Lok Sabha seats with him, then the number of BJP MPs from Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana will be 90. If Narendra Modi can get 90 MPs to the BJP again in the Lok Sabha polls despite the bad results in these states, then his prime ministerial berth will be assured for the third time. Even if not in the state polls, the ‘Modi magic’ was intact till the last Lok Sabha election battle, will prove that.
In the last Lok Sabha polls, Narendra Modi made electoral capital of the terrorist attack on security forces in Pulwama and the retaliatory Air Force strike in Balakot. Wanted votes in the name of bravery of the army.
As a result of demonetisation, the harassment of people was also covered up. It is still unclear which question will become big in the Lok Sabha elections this time.
There is no doubt that there will be an attempt to create emotion around the inauguration of Ram Mandir. The opposition is using Adani-scam to raise prices, unemployment, financial woes of the masses against Modi.
From this, Narendra Modi may need some other controversies, some other surprises besides Ram Mandir to divert the attention of our people.
If Narendra Modi held a press conference, the question could have been asked, he himself wants to verify the effectiveness of ‘Modi magic’ in the votes of these five states? Or, the only challenge for him is to prove the RSS wrong!