Fate of Congress uncertain
It used to be said at one point during the prolonged Indo-Pakistan conflict over Jammu and Kashmir that only a military ruler in Pakistan and a BJP leadership in Delhi could arrive at a settlement acceptable to both. Such a prospect is now on the anvil and should, whether by chance or deliberate manoeuver, a final peace agreement come to be signed between the two countries by mid-March or early April, the fate of the Congress, as indeed of the entire Opposition is sealed. For the BJP it will be a walkover. For all one knows the BJP even on its own, may get elected by a majority in Parliament. No doubt the party is keeping its fingers crossed. Even the Muslim vote may swing to the BJP and away from the Congress. It does not require much perspicacity to notice the sense of helplessness in Congress circles. The party has no vision, no clear-cut goal, nothing to offer to the voter. By trying to run down the Feel-Good Factor, the Congress is only hurting itself.
Muslims support BJP
Vajpayee is seen to be a true leader. If there is a stirring of hope in Indo-Pak relations the credit?all cent per cent of it?is given to Vajpayee. The Congress cannot lay claim to even an iota of it. How can the Congress ever fight such a man? One thing is becoming abundantly clear and that is that once the elections are over there will be a major re-alignment of forces. Just as Muslims realised soon after Partition that their best bet was the Congress, so, too once the BJP emerges triumphant in the April general elections, will Muslims surely come to realise that for their own good they will need the BJP. That may well see the end of the Congress. How it will then re-shape its thinking is anybody’sguess. India, in that sense, is on the verge of great changes that could vitalise its polity and give new meaning to its nationhood. Significantly, the changes may even bring about changes in the thinking of the BJP itself, not to speak about its allies. New thought will then have to be given to such perceptions as Hindutva, itself. The country may not be aware of it, but it is in for some cataclasmic changes of which not even the leading parties are aware of. The elections of 2004 may well turn out to be the most significant of all the elections in post-Independence India. The BJP is well-advised to gear up to the coming likely changes that are expected to push India into hitherto undreamt of realms of peace, prosperity and power. The times are changing rapidly and the great challenge will be to keep up with them with courage and clarity.
It is unlikely that Sonia will recover in public popularity even if her party inducts her son Rahul and her daughter Priyanka to participate in the electioneering. The Nehru-Gandhi family attraction clearly is on the wane.