By Nripendra Acharya
According to many pandits at home and abroad, what was not to be, has happened in the 2004 national elections of India. Some in the English news media have been overwhelmed by the leadership of Smt. Sonia Gandhi for her relentless road shows all over the country. I am not one, nor anytime in the past, to be ever impressed by her persistent claim to lead India, a nation she hardly understands or she ever will. On the part of the Indian electorate, their slavish mentality towards their White rulers, the gift of thousand years of foreign rule worked to Sonia'sadvantage in the vacuum created by NDA/BJP and this is discussed below.
- Numerous retired persons and housewives were very sore with NDA for the drastic reduction of interest rates on their savings from provident fund, etc. and increase in prices of cooking gas and kerosene. Unfortunately, neither the government nor BJP/NDA took the trouble of explaining to the people the reasons for government actions and what was its plan to alleviate the sufferings of the people. This space gave the Sonia team a good opportunity to distort and ridicule the ?India shining? campaign and the gullible Indian voter readily swallowed what was close to their heart, i.e. they were suffering, not shining.
- NDA as a ruling party did very little propaganda/publicity to convince the common man that they had genuine concern for them. Further, the BJP, MPs in particular, did not nurture their constituencies by maintaining a sustained rapport with their support base at the grassroot level. Having lived in one such constituency for the last several months prior to the election, I never had the good fortune of seeing our local BJP MP even from a distance (not even once) in our area. Similar have been the experiences of my numerous friends and acquaintances in Delhi, UP and AP.
- In the election process, alliance partners did not help each other. Internal squabbles within BJP were noticed in many areas including my constituency and the candidate did not enjoy active support of BJP women or of the supporters from his own constituency.
- In response to several criticisms hurled on NDA, as communal fascists, supporters of imperialists, etc., I did not hear any comprehensive rebuttal any time from the BJP side that would convince a common citizen otherwise.
- NDA/BJP perhaps were so confident of ?Atal wave? that each BJP MP/leader measured himself/herself at par with ?Atalji? and did very little to develop rapport at the grassroot level. I believe Sonia filled the void with insults and abuses at BJP, as the void was created by BJP'sinaction before the common man. She just happened to be at the right place at the right time for her gains.
At this critical period of history when UPA, a club of all contradictions, is showing its vulnerability to hold the alliance together, BJP must wake up to build its organisational strength from the very grassroot level and start interacting with the electorate vigorously believing the next general election to be round the corner. BJP must not forget that the entire nation has a lot of expectations from it for pulling up the country from the present mess and leading her to a glorious height.