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Modi will complete his 3.0 unless there is a miracle that favours Oppn

The problem is that miracles happen in politics only when both optics and pragmatism are on the same page

Modi will complete his 3.0 unless there is a miracle that favours Oppn
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If push comes to shove, BJP may take support of DMK as BJP can’t make inroads into Tamil Nadu immediately. In the past, DMK was part of the NDA when it was in power for five years from 1999 to 2004. Of course, DMK shifted its loyalties to the UPA for the 2004 polls. As DMK has the history of aligning with the saffron party, there is no immediate harm if both the parties come together to keep this NDA government steady in case any of the current key NDA allies springs a unpleasant surprise

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has turned more aggressive these days. In normal circumstances, an opposition party allows a new government to settle down before training its guns on the ruling rival. This grace period may last for six months or so. But Rahul Gandhi did not give even six days after the results of the 2024 General Elections were declared on June 4. To be precise, he started his assault on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) even before the saffron party formed the government at the Centre for the third consecutive time, with its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners.

Two days after the results were out, the Congress leader, who subsequently went on to become the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) for the first time after a gap of 10 years, demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the stock market boom between May 31 and June 3 besides the stock market bust on June 4, the poll results day, which saw massive Rs. 30-lakh crore erosion in the Bombay Stock Exchange’s market capitalisation. He also tried to corner BJP in the paper leakage row of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG).

Further, in his maiden speech as the LoP in Lok Sabha, the Gandhi family scion took on BJP’s Hindutva plank by highlighting the saffron party’s loss in Faizabad parliamentary constituency under which Ayodhya falls. The Ayodhya Ram Mandir issue has played a key role in the phenomenal rise of BJP in the last three decades but the saffron party lost this Lok Sabha seat in the recent elections just a few months after the new Ram Mandir was consecrated. A couple of days ago, Rahul Gandhi also used BJP’s Faizabad loss to enthuse the Congress cadre in Gujarat by saying that Congress would defeat BJP in the western State in the next Assembly polls in 2027 as it did in Ayodhya. He also went on to say that BJP’s loss in Ayodhya meant an end ofHindutva, which forms the core of the saffron party’s ideology. But I don’t think the BJP has lost its patent on Hindutva because of its defeat in Faizabad. However, that’s a different story.

But why has Rahul Gandhi, the fifth time Lok Sabha MP, turned more aggressive now? There are three reasons for that. He has become more mature as a politician. Secondly, Congress nearly doubled its tally in the current 18th Lok Sabha. Thirdly, BJP fell short of the majority mark after securing full majority on its own for two consecutive terms. So, while Congress had turned stronger, BJP has become a tad weaker. This scenario has emboldened him as he senses an opportunity in future elections. Further, some Congress leaders even went on to say that the BJP-led NDA government would not last the full term.

But are there any chances of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre collapsing? It is a fact that BJP with its Lok Sabha tally getting reduced to 240, formed the government at the Centre with support of its NDA allies, especially Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu and Janata Dal (United) led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. TDP has 16 MPs while JD (U) has 12 MPs. Going by the tone and tenor of Naidu so far, it is apparent that he is more interested in constructing Amaravati, a Greenfield capital in AP, and developing his State. As it is his fourth term as Chief Minister and he is at the fag-end of his political career, the 74-year-old Naidu will obviously want to leave behind a good legacy. Furthermore, he didn’t aspire to become Prime Minister even when the United Front, for which he was the Convener, was in power at the Centre from 1996 to 1998. So, I don’t think he is nursing such an ambition now. He may not even press for the controversial Special Category Status (SCS) for his State now though he is in a commanding position. A liberal fund flow from the Centre may please him.

On his part, 73-year-old Nitish Kumar has prime ministerial ambitions. That’s the reason why he had played a key role in the formation of the I.N.D.I.A bloc. But he returned to the NDA fold just before the 2024 General Elections after he sensed the third consecutive victory for Modi and BJP. But he also reached such a stage in his political career that he would also look for a good legacy for him now instead of the turncoat tag. He may be happy if the Modi government announces a special package for Bihar though he is seeking SCS for his backward State.

So, it is more unlikely that the Naidu-Nitish duo will trouble BJP this time. But anything is possible in politics, which always remains unpredictable.

Although, hypothetical at this point, one wonders what BJP will do if Naidu and Nitish ditch it sometime in the future. The saffron party may go for support from members of Congress-led I.N.D.I.A block. The Mamata Banerjee-led TMC, a part-time member of the Congress-led block, had in the past aligned with the NDA when the latter came to power in 1999. But joining hands with TMC, which has 29 MPs in Lok Sabha, may not be the best option for the saffron party as it is the principal opposition in West Bengal. The saffron party will lose its relevance and the hard work of its cadre will go to waste if it strikes an alliance with Mamata now. So, Mamata’s support to the NDA government is ruled out unless BJP curtails its ambitions in West Bengal.

If push comes to shove, BJP may take support of DMK, which has 22 MPs in the Lok Sabha, as BJP can’t make inroads into Tamil Nadu immediately. In the past, DMK was also part of the NDA when it was in power for five years from 1999 to 2004. In the 1999 General Elections, BJP and DMK also contested together, with the NDA winning 26 seats. Even BJP won four seats in those polls in Tamil Nadu. Of course, DMK shifted its loyalties to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) for the 2004 polls. As DMK has a history of aligning with the saffron party, there is no immediate harm if both the parties come together to keep the NDA government steady in case any of the current key NDA allies springs an unpleasant surprise. As it happened in the past, DMK can go back to the Congress-led alliance in the next elections.

Further, Congress has lost the moral ground to question BJP on dividing the I.N.D.I.A bloc as the grand old party had been encouraging widespread desertions from Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in Telangana where Congress is in power.

Moreover, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the undeclared parent of BJP, is unlikely to disturb Modi in his record third time. These apart, neither political parties nor MPs, who have won recently, are obviously not ready for midterm polls, which are more likely if the Modi government falls.

So, as things stand now, Modi is most likely to complete his third consecutive term unless a miracle happens, favouring the Rahul Gandhi-led Opposition. But the problem is that miracles happen in politics only when both optics and pragmatism are on the same page. Optics against the ruling dispensation is very high now, but pragmatism favours Modi 3.0. That’s for sure.

P Madhusudhan Reddy
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