Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson had once famously said that “ a week is a long time in politics “. He also added that due to the fast changing political landscape fortune of a politician or a political group can change drastically in a single week.
In our context it can be said that 12 days changed India and with it the fortune of political leaders and political parties. Between the terrorist attack in Pulwama on February 14 and the Airforce attack deep inside Pakistan on February 26, the country changed and with it all calculations for the elections also changed drastically.
A few weeks before Pulwama Narendra Modi and BJP seemed little insecure and defensive. Surveys were predicting that they will be well short of majority though BJP may be the largest party. BJP had lost three crucial Hindi states. Unable to produce promised jobs and the agrarian distress had put the party on the backfoot. Rahul Gandhi was going ballistic on Rafale and Modi was being criticised for the ill conceived demonetisation scheme. It seemed that the Modi wave was ebbing while Rahul Gandhi was gaining.
But Pulwama and the air strike changed everything. The entire discourse changed as the mood of the nation became bloody to teach Pakistan a lesson.
Initially Rahul Gandhi showed sagacity by supporting the government but soon political compulsions came to the surface. Many congress leaders openly doubted the veracity of the government version as also that of the IAF. Thus they shot themselves in the foot and passed on a platter the narrative of nationalism and patriotism to BJP and its leader.
Never the one to let go of an emotional issue Modi lapped up the opportunity. He got huge support from the people especially in the north and the west. BJP also tried to encash his ‘mascular’ image. The nation was told that in Modi the country has a leader who is not averse to taking strong action in interest of the country so much so he can send IAF deep into Pakistan. Because of their dislike, if not hatred, for Modi many opposition leaders gave the impression that they trusted Imran Khan and the foreign media more though Reuter has repeatedly said that attempts of their reporters to see the destroyed jehadi camps in Balakot have been thwarted by Pak authorities.
But this is not the only problem facing the opposition. The BJP’s election machinery is in top gear, they have patched up their alliances and in Modi they have a strong leader. But in the opposition camp there is total disarray and incoherence . They can’t decide who will be their leader or what will be their policy if swept into power. Instead of taking Modi head on they are fighting themselves in UP, Haryana, West Bengal and even in tiny Delhi. Attempt at CMP has been torpedoed by the Communists who now have only a marginal presence in the country.
In the centre of it all is Rahul Gandhi whose dithering matches that of the Prince of Denmark. He can’t decide whether he wants to finish Modi first or to rebuild his party to fight another day. It is obvious he hates Modi Inspite of that hug in the parliament. But to hit Modi he has to make compromises with provincial parties that may prove costly in the long run like they have in UP and Tamil Nadu where now Congress is a marginal presence. It doesn’t help that both Mamta Bannerjee and Mayawati don’t see Rahul as PM material.
This confusion is coming very handy to Modi and his party. The country is not like to leap into dark and accept the leadership of this motley crowd. But it’s still four weeks to election and as has been said ,one week is a long time in politics. The opposition may sort out its contradictions and Issues like jobs, prices or the agrarian crisis may come to the fore but as of now it can be said in tennis language that its ‘Advantage Modi ‘.