After a long time, there is a display of common purpose by the Opposition which recently formed a front called INDIA at their Bangalore meet. The buildup indicates that 2024 will be a high voltage contest.
With just eight months left for the next elections Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already moved into campaign mode. This because he realizes that the time is short and the challenges before him and daunting. Any good observer of Indian politics knows that 2024 would be no ordinary election.
Hence, the body language of the Prime Minister is different. That he realizes the importance of the impending battle is visible in his moves and utterances. His lieutenant-in-chief Amit Shah is demonstrating the same kind of urgency. The NDA alliance is being strengthened and feelers being sent out to friendly regional satraps whose help will be crucial.
The Prime Minister has been quick to assess the buildup in the opposition ranks. After a long time, there is a display of common purpose by the Opposition which recently formed a front called INDIA at their Bangalore meet. The buildup indicates that 2024 will be a high voltage contest.
It is going to be very different from 2019 when the going was made easy for the BJP-led NDA by a blundering Congress whose campaign against Modi fell flat. The BJP got a clear majority in the Lok Sabha on its own. The Balakot strike also worked in favour of the party.
But 2024 is going to be a different kind of battle. The indications are already there. Though assembly elections in some crucial states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh are pending the focus is on the biggest prize, the general elections. Everything else is secondary.
Some outstanding factors make this election particularly challenging Modi and Co. The most important of these is perhaps the formation of what has come to be known as INDIA, a particularly symbolic acronym in the context of contemporary politics. This is no ordinary alliance because the parties involved have MPs drawn from 20 states and Union territories. The constituents of this alliance are also in power in 11 states. So it is very different from the rag, tag and bobtail formations of the past where the constituents neither had a common agenda nor did they agree fully about the strategy to achieve their goal. Besides, there is every likelihood of some more parties joining the front.
One must keep in mind that for BJP to get a clear majority in 2024 it must repeat its 2019 performance in Uttar Pradesh and most of the Hindi heartland, if not Bihar where the equations have turned against it with JD(U) boss and chief minister Nitish Kumar withdrawing from NDA and joining the Mahagathbandhan which will pose a stiff challenge to the BJP in the state in 2024. For the BJP to do well in UP and other heartland states a division of opposition votes is a must. Any consolidation of the opposition front is going to make this extremely difficult.
Muslim vote is going to be crucial for both sides. While the opposition would be looking for its consolidation in its favour the BJP will hope that in UP in particular it gets divided among the SP, the BSP, the Congress. Now AsaduddinOwaisi’s AIMIM has also emerged as a claimant of Muslim votes. However, the results of Karnataka elections showed that Muslim vote is consolidating behind any party that is most likely to defeat the BJP. An alliance like INDIA can make the choice easy for the Muslims and BJP’s task equally difficult.
The BJP is keenly aware of the odds stacked against it and will try to offset this by leveraging the enhanced image of the BJP-led NDA government and the Prime Minister in particular at the international level. Whether it succeeds or not only time will tell.