It is evident that Rahul Gandhi is not being taken seriously, even after nearly half the total number of constituencies have already voted.
A television news channel interviewed an elderly resident of Mathura and asked her for her opinion on Hema Malini. She is a good actor and she looks good, the person said. The next question was: Would she vote for Hema Malini? The voter responded: Is she contesting? When the correspondent replied in the affirmative and added that the actor-turned-politician was fighting on a BJP ticket, promptly came the reply: Then I will vote for her. I want Modi to win.
Most television channels have been conducting programmes in which ordinary citizens form part of the gathering, while political representatives take the questions. On most occasions, when the people are asked to express their choice, they say either ‘Congress’ or ‘Modi’. Even when they burst into sloganeering, it is “Modi, Modi!” or “Congress, Congress!”
Right from BJP president down to the foot soldiers of the party, everyone has expressed confidence that the party would perform better than in 2014 because the people want Modi to continue as Prime Minister.
What do these instances show? They demonstrate the pull that Prime Minister Modi has on the people. Nearly every BJP contestant is banking on the Modi factor for victory in his or her constituency. On the other hand, few Congress candidates can hope for dividends by invoking the prospect of Rahul Gandhi becoming Prime Minister.
Recently, leading industrialist Mukesh Ambani backed the candidature of Congress leader Milind Deora from a constituency in Mumbai, saying he was the most suitable candidate in the fray. it was a personal endorsement for Deora and not that of Rahul Gandhi. How many Congress candidates have been heard telling voters that their vote will make Rahul Gandhi the Prime Minister, and so they must kindly vote for them? Digvijaya Singh, who is locked in a battle with Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, is struggling to obliterate his past utterances and positions on Hindutva, but he is not using the Rahul Gandhi card to seek relief. Jyotiraditya Scindia does not even need the Gandhi name to solicit votes in Guna. In Karnataka, votes are being asked by the Congress-JD(S) combine on the basis of candidates and their respective local leaders, whether is HD Deve Gowda or Siddaramaiah. The BJP camp, on the other hand, knows that Modi is the trump card for them.
The last three are allies of the Congress but are not dependent on the Rahul Gandhi factor to succeed.
Right from BJP president down to the foot soldiers of the party, everyone has expressed confidence that the party would perform better than in 2014 because the people want Modi to continue as Prime Minister. On the other hand, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid has said that the Congress would get around 150-160 seats — a rather poor endorsement of Rahul Gandhi’s leadership which is supposed to get the Congress into power on its own strength.
Like the BJP but unlike the Congress, leading regional parties to are depending on their respective leaders’ charisma to see them through. It’s Naveen Patnaik for the Biju Janata Dal, Mamata Banerjee for the Trinamool Congress, Chandrababu Naidu for the Telugu Desam Party, K Chandrashekhar Rao for the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Sharad Pawar for the Nationalist Congress Party, Tejashwi Yadav for the Rashtriya Janata Dal, and MK Stalin for the DMK. The last three are allies of the Congress but are not dependent on the Rahul Gandhi factor to succeed.
On the other hand, while the BJP’s partner, the Shiv Sena, is riding ahead keeping Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership, it knows that Modi’s name will be the main contributor to its victory. In Bihar, while Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, an ally of the BJP, is the predominant politician, votes by candidates of both parties are being sought in Modi’s name. Even the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, which is facing a rough time, is banking on the Modi factor to minimize its losses.
It is evident that Rahul Gandhi is not being taken seriously, even after nearly half the total number of constituencies have already voted. His credibility has taken a beating as a result of his immature utterances. He had to express regret in the Supreme Court for linking his ‘Chowkidar is a thief’ remark to an order of the apex court. Now he has been slapped with a contempt of court notice. Days ago he wondered how the Modi surname represented wrongdoing — he spoke of Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi, and Narendra Modi. Most recently he referred to BJP president Amit Shah as a “murder accused” when the fact is that Shah had not only been exonerated but that the court had also passed damning observations on how the prosecution had tried to frame him in order to discredit him politically. He is still battling a court case for having said that RSS people had killed Mahatma Gandhi.
A neighbor of mine recently remarked: “Is this man (Rahul Gandhi) seriously hoping to become the country’s Prime Minister?” it wasn’t a question, but an exclamation.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.