Agenda set for 2024 LS electoral battle

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre seems to have set the tone for next year’s electoral battle. This was evident from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement at the inauguration of the International Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi on Wednesday. He assured to make the country the third largest economy in the world and that is his ‘guarantee’ to the electorate, as general elections are just eight-nine months away. Interestingly, the word ‘guarantee’ appears to have replaced the usual ‘promise’ that is made during the elections by political parties. What is the difference between these two? A promise means one will do his best to implement it, whereas a guarantee is that there is no chance it will fail. And this word indeed paid rich dividends to the Congress or bring alive its hopes that it is on a comeback trail.

The Congress’ winning in Himachal Pradesh can hardly be considered as a comeback for the party as the state has always denied the incumbent government a second term since 1985. This trend of the electorate is prevalent in some states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala in the south and Himachal Pradesh or Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh, to name a few in the north. Not that the jinx wasn’t broken. It did happen in Goa in the recent past. It is too early to decide whether the Congress will fulfill its ‘guarantees’ given to the electorate at the time of election. That may be the reason why the BJP seems to have taken the Congress route as the Prime Minister has started using more frequently during his speeches, of late. Does he feel that his ‘personal guarantee’ can influence more than that of Congress? And, one knows whose ‘guarantee’ – PM Modi’s NDA or the Congress-led alliance I.N.D.I.A – will sway the electorate!

It is a known fact that the ‘Modi haitho mumkin hai’ (Nothing is unachievable if Modi is the PM) slogan caught the imagination not only of the electorate in the country but also the Indian diaspora is across the globe. Whether in the case of the BJP fulfilling its electoral promises, which include the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A to make the ‘disputed’ Jammu and Kashmir an integral part of India, or the abolition of ‘triple talaq’ to save Muslim women who often become the victims of this  matrimonial trap. Why these two, even the Prime Minister’s brave moves to take decisive acts against the country’s enemies – Pakistan on the West and China on the East – through ‘surgical strikes’ to destroy the terror headquarters across the border, or giving a befitting reply to the expansionist China’s attempts to encroach upon at Galwan in Ladakh or later on to  Arunachal Pradesh. And Modi’s determination to make India militarily strong by acquiring Rafale fighter jets from France, submarines and other technology from traditional partner Russia, or the latest surveillance drones as well as fighter jets from the US, makes the Indian electorate impose their faith in him.

Even in the case of the Indian economy, much against the fears being expressed by the experts of the decaying Congress and discredited Communists, especially after the most dreaded Covid pandemic which ruined several countries’ economies, could not prevent the Modi government’s policies pursued to have any impact on Indian economy. Today almost all renowned financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund or World Bank and others project it as an emerging economy, although India is nowhere close to either China or US, which are in double figures. India already pushed down the United Kingdom to occupy the fifth position of the top 10 till now. And the Prime Minister claims that during his third term, he would ensure India becomes, the third, and for that, it has to overtake Japan and Germany which are now positioned in third and fourth place respectively. Will it be possible in the next half a decade or so to push the Indian GDP to get closer to a double figure? A ‘guarantee’ of PM! For many, especially the 26-member Opposition coalition, it looks like a fantasy of Modi! How far the Indian electorate is optimistic or pessimistic can only be known from the outcome of the 2024 Lok Sabha ballot battle.