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If Modi loses Bihar polls, his grip on BJP and govt will slip to a great extent

The tactical error Modi has made was to make this election his personal referendum rather than the party's.

Written by Dinesh Trivedi | New Delhi |
Updated: October 20, 2015 1:23:41 pm
modi, bihar elections, bihar polls The tactical error Modi has made was to make this election his personal referendum rather than the party’s.

Whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi wins or loses, mind you, I did not say whether BJP wins or loses, the outcome of Bihar elections will drastically change the present political scenario. The tactical error Modi has made was to make this election his personal referendum rather than the party’s. He made it his personal battle with Nitish Kumar. It did work in the Lok Sabha Election when Modi was the PM candidate. He had cleverly converted the elections into a presidential style battle between him and Rahul Gandhi.

Modi was fresh on the national scene with a macho like image and full of promises, promising to bring the so called ‘achche din’. People were fed up of the UPA government’s massive corrupt image, which in their last two years was virtually directionless. Everything worked in favour of Modi, like in the year 2008 when president Obama contested his first presidential election against John McCain, his campaign was so perfect that the world thought that Obama was their choice for president. Similarly Modi’s campaign, right from the youth to the media, had great team work and the results were a foregone conclusion — almost one sided. Modi won with a massive mandate.

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Modi tried to repeat the same model for the Delhi Assembly election, making it Modi versus Kejriwal. It did not work. The results were shocking and totally one-sided in favour of Kejriwal. Had the Delhi Assembly elections been held along with the Lok Sabha elections the outcome might have been different, but because of the time lag people got a glimpse of his style of governance and chose Kejriwal as a balancing act.

Forgetting the Delhi experience, Modi has taken a huge gamble once again by experimenting with the same model. The prime minister made the battle for Bihar Modi versus Nitish without realising that Nitish is not Rahul. Nitish is a seasoned politician firmly grounded in the politics of the state and knows the Bihari mind very well.

Nitish does not suffer from the anti-incumbency factor. Voters in Bihar, like in Delhi, know that Modi is not the CM candidate and, in any case, he would not have the understanding of Bihar as Nitish/Laloo would. That’s why Nitish’s slogan ‘Bihari versus Bahari’ has been intelligently coined and put to use. Perhaps a Bihari face as CM candidate might have worked differently only if BJP had one.

The outcome of Bihar election is watched very carefully by the entire country and, maybe the world, as the results are bound to change the future polity of the country. If Modi wins, which is a BIG IF, he will become much more larger than the party and the government; he becomes much more authoritarian and aggressive as he will consider the victory as a referendum on his style of functioning.

But if he loses then his grip on the party and the government will slip to a very great extent. Rivals within the party, quiet and subdued so far, will become very vocal and the proverbial knives would be out in the open. The pressure will also mount on Amit Shah. His continuation as the president of the BJP for the second term could be challenged by some in the party.

Party functionaries may also put the blame on Modi’s frequent foreign trips at the cost of domestic affairs, the way Pandit Nehru was blamed by a few that in his zeal of promoting himself as a world leader he neglected the domestic affairs. Media will suddenly find all that is wrong with the Prime Minister Modi.

The first casualty then could be the winter session of Parliament. Opposition would smell blood and go for the kill.

But whatever happens, judging from the recent past elections, the ‘winner takes it all’.  This will also influence the upcoming elections in various States like West Bengal, Tamilnadu, UP, Punjab, Kerala, Assam, etc.

One needs to wait till the day of the result to find out whether Modi’s gamble has worked in his favour or against. However, one thing is clear, if Nitish wins he could emerge as a rallying point for the Opposition parties, possibly people could also look at him as future Prime Ministerial candidate. Let’s wait till November 8, 2015.

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