Modi plan: Mixing the message and the man

Narendra Modi, the saffron poster boy, appears has become both victim and survivor of his own image. With his several speeches and interviews, he himself has made himself the issue, which, many party insiders feel, has given some elbowroom to the “otherwise demoralised ruling party” to maneuver politically.
“Be it the burqa remark or the puppy statement, Mr Modi allowed the media to play around his image to sell their stories and the ruling Congress got a chance to avoid the core issues like corruption and price rise, which are now confronting the country, and bring the focus back on secular-communal divide,” a leader in the BJP confided.
Almost similar views have been expressed by senior BJP leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, but he later clarified that he was “not suggesting anything to Mr Modi”, rather, his views were for all political parties which are opposed to Congress — that they should not fall prey to the ruling party’s “communal-secular” trap.
However keen Modi observers feel that the Gujarat Chief Minister has the same usual problem with which most leaders at the state level suffer from.
“They think that as they win the Assembly elections single handedly while projecting their, they can win parliamentary elections too on the same manner. But this is not possible in a country like India. In the last 66 years, many political heroes have came and gone at the state level, but none of them could establish themselves in the same way at the national-level,” an observer noted.
If Mr Modi wants to succeed at the national level, he has to work and manage the leaders around him, Atal Behari Vajpayee did.
“Mr Modi will need to work on a strategy to shift the focus from himself to issues confronting the nation,” an observer said.
Parliamentary democracy is all about collectivism, just as the Prime Minister is just first among equals and the government remains in office so long it has majority in Parliament.
To think that one person can win elections, or individualism could do the trick in the prevailing system, would always be an erroneous proposition. In case of parties, which are being ruled by dynasties, individuals, at times, can bring victory. But in that case the individual owns the party and his/her authority cannot be challenged substantially.
The BJP falls under the first category, where no one family is dominant. All its leaders, including Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, have almost equal opportunity to rise to the top and therefore one can witness an intra-party fight among them, besides taking on their adversaries.
It is undisputed that Mr Modi is the most popular among all his contemporaries in the party, be it L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj or Arun Jaitley. But the question is, whether or not an individual’s popularity and image can win the polls, where a direct election does not take place for the post of Prime Minister.
Given the popularity chart and pressure from the party cadre, the BJP leadership, after a lot a bickering and bad blood selected Mr Modi as chief of the campaign committee for 2014 elections.
In the run-up to Mr Modi’s elevation, Mr Advani had raised his concerns and had suggested that instead of constituting one “umbrella committee”, it could be bifurcated into two — one for national elections and other for the crucial Assembly polls.
But the party decided otherwise, and the drama which unfolded after Mr Modi’s anointment was there for everybody to see.

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