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Politicians and poll pundits are masters of deception. Like chameleons, they can change their colours for collaboration. They can contort conviction for convenience. Now that the heat and dust of the rhetorically repellent Gujarat elections have settled, public attention is on the platitudes that can be expected from the mouths of winners, losers and their sponsors after the results are announced. Exit polls and Opinion polls have already given the spoils to victor Narendra Modi. Many journalists would be seeking credible justifications for their opinionated reporting from Ground Zero.
Since the Gujarat election was nothing but a perception-driven war of credibility and acceptability between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and new Congress President Rahul Gandhi, the post poll narrative will focus on them. Will Modi once again emerge as an invincible warrior aka cricket monarch Virat Kohli by breaking records—in this case, of winning political matches? Or, has Rahul risen like a Wall as his namesake Dravid was for the Indian cricket team in preventing opponents from demolishing his troupe at a time of crisis? Comparisons between Modi and Rahul are facetious. The former is a magic model, mesmerising masses with mantras of success and hard work.
Rahul has just started working on a redefined syllabus to lead a party on the verge of extinction. Yet, his new avatar might have infused the Congress with some pre-poll energy. The Gujarat poll wasn’t an ideological battle for ballots between the BJP and the Congress. By the time the last vote was cast, the election had become a war of egos of Modi and Rahul. But what will Modi-ites and RaGa-rians say after the democratic choice of 6.5 crore Gujaratis is revealed tomorrow? Here are a few scenarios:
● A dream scenario for the BJP would be to win 150 seats. Party President Amit Shah had set his sights on this number even before the elections were announced. His strategy has been to fix the target for each state election to pressure the ranks, and his impressive strike rate has justified this method, so far. If the BJP bags the set number, it will declare Hindu Hriday Samrat Modi as India’s indomitable icon destined to create Ram Rajya. A display of competitive sycophancy will begin amongst BJP Chief Ministers, Union Ministers, state presidents, embedded journalists and columnists to give full credit to the Prime Minister for running an unbeatable and convincing election campaign.
Shah, of course, would be credited for crafting an effective, efficacious election machine led by his dedicated team. The win will be projected as a public endorsement for Demonetisation and GST. The BJP would also have written the Gandhi Parivar’s political obituary. On the other hand, the Congress will predictably absolve its new president from any responsibility for the rout and will instead accuse it of tampering with EVMs and polarising the electorate. It will also target the money power of a few corporate houses for opening their sumptuous coffers for the BJP.
● The second option is either the BJP scores between 115 and 120, matching its 2012 tally, or around 100-110 seats. Even then, its megaphones would declare Modi as the man of the match with the mojo to beat anti-incumbency. They would also claim that Gujarat voters have once again reposed faith in him. Some may express anger against the local leadership, but Modi will remain the darling of the state. On the other hand, the Congress will announce Rahul the winner who was able to contain the mass might of Modi and the mind power of Shah.
They are already accusing the Election Commission of misusing state machinery and partisan conduct. They would keep claiming that the EC manufactured a BJP majority and the Congress was denied a level playing field. The EC had allowed the BJP to announce new welfare schemes, the inauguration of new projects by the Prime Minister and sundry freebies.
● The third scenario, for the sake of argument, is of the Congress winning an absolute majority with 95 to 100 seats. It will unleash a storm of sycophancy, and elaborate encomiums of teeming toadies will be the ethos of the hour. Not only will Rahul be hailed as the future Prime Minister but also a giant killer. Since the name of the Congress Chief Minister would have been a mystery, the credit for an unexpected, impossible and unprecedented triumph would be showered upon Rahul’s mature, focused and missionary campaign style and Gandhigiri genius. Modi baiters would go to town denouncing the PM’s development model, as a fake canon rejected by Gujarat’s voters.
They will also spin the verdict as a vote of no confidence in the leadership of the Prime Minister and his ‘pernicious administrative and fiscal actions’. The BJP leaders who had ridiculed Rahul for his temple visits would now declare that Pandit Rahul Gandhi has abandoned his secular signposts and hypocritically harvested hard core saffron votes by projecting himself as a devout Hindu with a credible and if not an alternative agenda for governance based on inclusiveness and equality. Rahul would also be projected as the Indira Gandhi 2.0 in the making.
Punters are betting on the return of Modi, especially after the exit polls have unanimously given him the crown. Normally, Assembly elections do not change the contours of national politics or governance. But Gujarat is a special case, since both the Prime Minister and party President are from here. Both have scored remarkable electoral victories and have politically emasculated and hamstrung their opponents with ruthless routs.
A victorious NaMo is expected to enforce the Modi Model of Governance with a vengeance. Shah will purge the party of suspected saboteurs. Modi could even go for a midterm poll in December 2018 simultaneously with the elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. It is now unequivocally certain that Gujarat will signal both an end and beginning of new politics and alternative leadership.
Comparisons between Modi and Rahul are facetious. The former is a magic model, mesmerising masses with mantras of success and hard work. Rahul has just started working on a redefined syllabus to lead a party on the verge of extinction. Yet, his new avatar might have infused the Congress with some pre-poll energy.