Talking 2024 – 1
The 2024 Election Games have begun. Who will be India’s next Prime Minister? Who will challenge Modi? Will the Opposition unite? Will the Congress replace the Gandhis? As the English Editorial Elite sense a weakened Modi, the WITA game is now firmly under way – Who Is The Alternative? It was also played a few years ago – just prior to the 2019 elections. While it is a fun game, it is the wrong game. The alternative to Modi is Nota (None of the Above) in the single individual sense. But we get ahead of ourselves. Let’s first look at the commentary from recent times as the BJP and Modi complete seven years in power.
Shekhar Gupta: “Can 2024 become more challenging for Modi? Yes, but it’s all up to Congress… Modi and Shah know Congress is the only likely challenger to them nationally, and the Gandhis are key to keeping it together. That’s why they need to be targeted ruthlessly… The Congress and the other opposition parties, in what we might loosely describe as the Modi-peedit samaj, have another option. Think what a company with great legacy brands and strong customer loyalties, but losing out to niftier challengers, does. It gets a CEO from someplace else. It won’t happen in the Congress. But, can it happen with a larger opposition coalition with the Congress at its core? What it brings to the table won’t be the charisma of its leaders, but that loyal 20 per cent customer base. If such a thought emerges, Mamata Banerjee and others like her can be back in the reckoning.”
Yogendra Yadav: “Modi is not Manmohan Singh. He won’t fade away without fighting to the finish. In the 7 years since he took oath, Narendra Modi’s government has never looked as shaky as it does today. But there is still no alternative… Despite all his blunders, mere Modi-bashing won’t lead to his defeat; the people look for an alternative before they can discard what they have. And let us face it: Such an alternative does not exist, at least not on the menu that an ordinary person gets to see. This is not to discount the existing opposition parties, nor to dismiss the need for their unity. Opposition unity is necessary but not sufficient. The opposition needs a glue that holds it together and a glow to radiate hope among the people. As of now, it doesn’t seem to have either. This is why we need an alternative to supplement the existing opposition… Such an alternative to Modi would need, first of all, a positive and believable message about India’s future… Once we have a positive and believable message, we need credible messengers… Finally, we need a powerful machine to carry this message across the country. This machine needs two parts: Organisation and communication.”
Rajdeep Sardesai: “Seven years into their terms as PM, Nehru, Indira and Manmohan Singh faced political setbacks…Modi too now faces his moment of truth. His initial appeal was drawn from his claim to be an anti-establishment folk hero, a man from humble origins who combined religio-nationalist zeal with the image of an anti-corruption crusader and a development icon. For seven years, this image has been artfully managed, a teflon-like coating ensuring that no blame ever stuck to it. The Covid-19 surge is the first time that the glossy protective veil around the PM’s persona is being lifted and a governance deficit lies exposed: the optics of a tika utsav for example cannot compensate for a floundering vaccine policy… The headline-grabbing dream merchant of 2014 must now transform himself into a nuts and bolts crisis manager to ensure that his government too, like those led by other PMs in their seventh year, is not pushed into ventilator mode.”