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  Opinion   Columnists  19 Jun 2024  Sunil Gatade | Modi 3.0 could prove to be challenging, tiring for PM

Sunil Gatade | Modi 3.0 could prove to be challenging, tiring for PM

The writer is a senior journalist based in New Delhi.
Published : Jun 20, 2024, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Jun 20, 2024, 12:05 am IST

The NDA and INDIA bloc engage in a strategic battle, leaving Modi navigating challenges amid shifting alliances & emerging opposition unity.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (PTI Image)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (PTI Image)

What is the real meaning of the mandate of 2024? A Congress leader from Bihar pithily likened it to a game of fencing between the National Democratic Alliance and the INDIA bloc. What the Opposition has done in the sword fighting is that it has succeeded in tearing the lace of the NDA’s pyjama, making it most difficult for it to fight, he insisted.

If Prime Minister Narendra Modi concentrates on the tactics with the sword to overpower the opponent, he could face the embarrassment of a lifetime with the pyjama giving way.

So, whether the PM likes it or not, he will be busy in the next five years holding the pyjama in one hand to avert embarrassment and a disaster, the leader remarked, adding that there was no other way. He will have to ignore the sword, for otherwise…

The leader, who declined to be named, said that the supreme leader will necessarily take time to understand the meaning of the mandate and by the time that he realised it, he would be holding the pyjama as his instant reaction.
That is what is happening on the ground, at least for the present. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who had virtually turned into Rip Van Winkle for the past ten years, has suddenly realised that much is wrong in the republic, and especially with those who are running it. It was not expected of the faithful to be arrogant.

Here it is not only arrogance, but the fact that it has been systematically turned into a personality cult, which is so very against the precept of the Sangh. However, the RSS chief has not said so explicitly.

As Mohan Bhagwat is becoming another “Anna Hazare”, Mr Modi is belatedly realising that he is neither a messiah nor a “Vishwa Guru”. How can anyone pluck the ear of a “Vishwa Guru”? And that too in full public view? And that is intended to be that way. To Mr Bhagwat goes the credit of ensuring “jor ka jhatka dhire se lage”.
For Mr Modi, the RSS chief has ended his “Mauni Baba” avatar at a most inopportune time.  The PM has not been given breathing time after the less-than-good showing of the BJP.

After the 2019 general election, in which the BJP under Mr Modi scored 303 Lok Sabha seats in the back of the Pulwama attack and the Balakot airstrikes, it was said tongue-in-cheek that one person who will now need the maximum security would be the RSS chief. It was meant to imply that Mr Modi’s victory would further marginalise the RSS and its chief.

So, it goes without saying that the Sangh was waiting for an opportunity. J.P. Nadda’s statement in the middle of the elections that the BJP does not need the active support of the Sangh in campaigning had already alarmed the Sangh.

Interestingly, the RSS chief has been seen to be extra eager to tell the powers that be that arrogance is not the best policy for any “sevak”, let alone the “first sevak” of the country.

Even Prashant Kishor, who found himself in the soup for projecting a comfortable majority to the BJP under Mr Modi, has now changed his tune. Things could become difficult for Mr Modi if the BJP failed to win at least two of the three states going to the polls soon. Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand will hold Assembly elections by the yearend, followed by Delhi in the new year.
When it rains, it pours. This looks to be the fate of the PM whose bhakts used to boast “Modi hai to Mumkin Hai”. The PM is going overboard to project that nothing has changed, even though it is no longer a Modi government but an NDA one.

Nitish Kumar may show a servile attitude towards the PM. But his secular credentials will be a bother for the BJP to further its brand of Hindutva and its pet themes of the Uniform Civil Code and other contentious issues. Even Nitish Kumar’s worst detractors from Bihar do not doubt his commitment to secularism.
Nara Chandrababu Naidu is no different, but cannot be seen in Nitish’s zealous category. Chandrababu Naidu has learnt to his horror in the past that the minorities could cook his goose, silently. The 74-year-old CM’s project to help politically settle his son Nara Lokesh would make him a dependable ally to a certain extent, but the BJP should be seen to help settle his scores against YSR Jaganmohan Reddy. Mr Reddy, the YSRCP chief, is in turn cautioning the BJP that it should not forget he has got 15 MPs -- 4 in the Lok Sabha and 11 in the Rajya Sabha -- when every vote counts in a delicate situation.
Mr Naidu also sees in neighbouring Telangana how the covert or overt bonhomie with the BJP had virtually become a kiss of death for former CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao as the BRS is gradually withering away.

The first Parliament session after the Lok Sabha polls, which will start next week, is expected to see the dawn of a new reality before the PM, sooner than later. Everybody who is anybody in the Opposition space would like to present a bulwark in Parliament and outside against those who have been the “bull in the China shop”, tearing every tenet in the world’s largest democracy in the past decade.

Inside the BJP, the likes of Yogi Adityanath and Shivraj Singh Chouhan as well as Nitin Gadkari would like to have a place in the sun. Mr Modi is no longer the sun, and could become the setting sun if the RSS decides to intervene effectively to show who is the boss, and helps bring in a new BJP chief not enamoured of the PM.
The INDIA grouping should start scoring the goals/runs like Gundappa Vishwanth’s late cuts, taking advantage of the pitch made slippery by Mohan Bhagwat and others, and keep aside any internal differences.

The experience so far is that Mr Modi does not know or understand how to deal with a spirited and united Opposition that is sizable in number. The mandate has limited Mr Modi’s scope for manoeuvre. It has also put him in the dock. Rahul Gandhi and the others should tone down their rhetoric and stop attacks on the RSS for the time being as a tactic. If the INDIA bloc plays its cards well and keeps its ranks intact, the “Vishwa Guru” will soon realise that his project of an Opposition-mukt Bharat has floundered, rendering him vulnerable.


Tags: modi 3.0, bjp-nda government, narendra modi