MAMOSA Report — A landslide victory at the state election in Uttar Pradesh has provided PM Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with fresh political capital backed by a robust macroeconomic outlook.
Mr. Modi and the BJP will dominate the political scene and probably secure reelection at the parliamentary polls in 2019, a view held by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and several other influential papers. However, managing communal relations will be a key challenge for the BJP government at the center and in the States and could upset the cart if India’s secular outlook keeps taking a hit locally as well as internationally.
Recently, Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took a jibe at Modi and his party’s landslide poll victory including appointment of a firebrand Hindutva pundit as UP’s Chief Minister — 25 percent (some claim 40 percent) of the state’s population comprises of Muslims — mostly non-vegetarian meat-lovers and its largest minority group.
The clampdown on illegal slaughter houses in UP and in other states of India is resonating being anti-Muslim, politically driven, therefore anti-secular in essence for the world’s largest democracy — India also has one of the world’s largest Muslim population growing to become the largest in a decade.
It’s a conventional wisdom in modern politics that perception counts — therefore counter strategies and tactics of opposing forces are dictated by reversing the social engineering of the prevailing narrative. That’s what appears to be happening.
An alarm bell has rung in the anti-Modi, anti-BJP beltway nationwide – showing a congruence of moves.
On Monday Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar suggested a grand alliance of opposition parties, similar to that in his state on the national level could stop the dominance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
“As the grand-alliance was successful here, if it is emulated on the national level, it could achieve grand success,” Kumar said.
The Janata Dal United (JDU) leader said that he held talks with other Left leaders and the Congress in this regard and asked them to take an initiative to throw the BJP-led NDA alliance out of power.
Kumar further said that being the oldest party, the Congress should take the responsibility of bringing all other opposition parties on the same platform. Congress espouses secularism, though Muslims feel they have been let down, and therefore looking elsewhere.
The architect of grand alliance in Bihar said that there is no dearth of leaders for the post of Prime Minister.
Critics carry skepticism on Congress interest in such a “grand alliance” though.
Many say it’s because they may have read the writing on the wall. Others say the Congress is suffering from a chronic fatigue syndrome as it has ruled India for the largest period starting from independence in 1947. It’s still short of a narrative which will bring all together.
The jury is still out there on this matter.