If elections are held tomorrow, which party or coalition of parties will win? Does the UPA have even a ghost of a chance to come back to power? None, whatsoever. For all one knows the UPA will collapse like a house of cards, no matter who leads the Congress. The Nehru-Gandhi brand has lost its glamour and considering Rahul Gandhi’s poor showing in the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, there is little hope that his leadership, such as it is, will win seats elsewhere in the country. As it is, the UPA is divided internally, as recent events concerning Mamata Banerjee and Sharad Pawar have shown. The DMK and AIDMK have reason to be cautious.
Apart from what fates ordained for the likes of A Raja and the 2G Scandal, both parties have been denouncing the routine training of Sri Lankan Armed Servicemen in India. The appointment of Sushil Kumar Shinde as the Home Minister has not gone down well with many Congressmen themselves, apart from the media. If anything, every policy under him has been UPA-2’s biggest failure.
How many weeks or months did it take for the UPA government to discover the 400-meter long tunnel Pakistan has been promoting from its side into Jammu & Kashmir’s Sambha Sector? According to former Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan, there are allegations of corruptions against fifteen Ministers of the UPA Government. After Mamata’s success in West Bengal, the Communists have ceased to be a power to be reckoned with. The world itself is losing faith in India’s economic growth. The US credit rating firm Standard and Poor has warned India that it runs the risk of losing its ‘Investment Grade’ status because of slowing GDP growth.
After running two terms as Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh will retire whether the UPA wins or loses the election and in any event, he is hardly one to rouse people’s faith in the UPA government, given his record. One suspects that if Sonia Gandhi will not promise Sharad Pawar the Prime Ministership should UPA win, he’ll see to it that it will not make the grade. The next election will surely be Pawar’s last chance to don the Prime Ministerial mantle which he has been seeking so desperately all these years, even without credibility. But will Sonia Gandhi chose him, as she chose Manmohan Singh, when psychopants in the party are demanding that Rahul Gandhi is the natural heir to the throne? In every department of activity, not only does the Congress look hopelessly naive if not out of sync, there seems to be no consensus between the party and the government. Even more distressing is the likelihood of the Lashkar-e-Taiba opening up a front in Jammu & Kashmir – an event that calls for a strong hand in Delhi which the UPA is unable to provide – and forget the Interlocutors’ awful report.
Andhra Pradesh is already lost to the Congress as was clear in the recent elections when YSR Congress leader YS Jagamohan Reddy won a decisive victory that put the Sonia Congress to shame. Any possible support either from the BSP or the Samajwadi Party should be immediately suspect. Both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati have their own agenda to follow. In the circumstances it is the NDA which should do far better than in the last elections to emerge as the coalition to take over the reins of power in Delhi. On that there can hardly be two opinions. LK Advani may express his doubts, probably because he is afraid to sound too over-confident, but what other choice does the Indian voter have but to vote for the NDA? What its leaders – and more especially the BJP – should do is perhaps not to go overboard with charges against the UPA but merely let facts speak for themselves.
Worse, the BJP has to face people like Keshubhai Patels and the Nitish Kumars and one can be sure that these two will go all out to pull down Narendra Modi, the putative Prime Ministerial candidate. Ergo, the BJP has a lot to do to put its own house in order. YS Yeddyurappa may not be a Keshubhai, but he is capable of doing a lot of damage to his party in Karnataka by way of revenge. Few can excel him in pure viciousness. Narendra Modi’s hold on Gujarat maybe over-estimated but at any rate it should become clear in the scheduled elections in December. By and large the BJP has really nothing to be worried about and Advani’s fears seem unwarranted. But then nothing can be taken for granted. As matter stand, it should be a straight fight between the UPA and NDA with the latter having an edge over the former.
One should not, of course, ignore the possibility of Anna’s political party making inroads into the pro-NDA vote base, which is one reason why every effort should be made to persuade the Anna Team not to engage in politics. That is one danger that the BJP will have to learn how to face. But there is no gainsaying the fact that to position itself for the 2014 race, the BJP needs to resolve all internal differences – and the sooner it is done, the better. One can be sure that the Modi-haters will see that the Keshubhai Patel and Nitish Kumar will get all possible help, financial and otherwise, from a wide range of sources, including, guess from whom. Modi may be the RSS choice but Nitin Gadkari can also be expected to offer himself as an alternate candidate, even if a poor and unconvincing one. All of which suggests that Advani himself must be offered, in the final analysis, as the NDA candidate for the Prime Ministership. If the present conflicts and contradictions are not satisfactorily resolved in time, it is not just the BJP or the NDA that will be affected, but the entire country as well.
What India needs in today’s context, is a strong and capable leader who has in him not only the strength and ability to resolve inner contradictions but to present a face to the world that sends a message that India cannot be taken lightly. In the normal course of events Advani himself should have been the automatic choice and hopefully he’ll make it. If, in the murky politics of today his candidacy is set aside, then Modi should be the next best choice. As an administrator he has made his mark, and as a man of vision he has few to challenge him, judging from the remarkable progress Gujarat has made whether in industry, agriculture, commerce or finance. In the end, one realises, it is the voter who will have the final word. The December elections in Gujarat surely will tell which way the wind blows.