The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is keenly watching the attempts being made by the Opposition parties to unite before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. While the party seems to realize there is a need for course correction in some aspects by the Narendra Modi government, it is not yet time for the alarm bells to ring.
The BJP leaders believe that the Opposition parties have to deal with several contradictions internally, like the Congress, and also among one another before they are ready to take on the saffron party’s might. At the same time, they know that the BJP cannot afford to be complacent, especially with crucial elections due early next year, including in Uttar Pradesh.
“We are working on our own strategy for the coming Assembly elections and also working at countering the negative publicity that the government faced in handling the Covid-19 crisis. Somehow, the government’s effort and work were not properly communicated,” says a senior BJP leader.
Post the Cabinet reshuffle, with new people in place in key ministries like health, education, information and broadcasting, the government is trying to present a more grounded and people-friendly approach. “The Prime Minister has been constantly and repeatedly telling the ministers and the party MPs that they need to be seen more, and heard less. They have to let their work do the talking. He has asked them to be in touch with people on the ground and be more aware of the problems they are facing. Also, he has been very particular that the party MPs and MLAs have to act with humility and not arrogance,” informs a veteran party MP.
As far as electoral politics are concerned, a party general secretary says that their strategy is clear – aim for 50 per cent of the vote share in any elections. “We are striving towards 50 per cent plus votes in the coming elections, whether it is UP, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab or Manipur. The opposition can unitedly or individually fight for the remaining pie,” the party leader says.
The BJP leaders believe that the caste dynamics are in their favour and demands like holding a caste census cannot damage the party’s prospects. They claim that the Opposition parties will not be able to tide over their differences, especially since many of them like the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are identified as representatives of specific communities and castes.
“At this time, we are not unduly worried and are just sitting and watching the confusion in the Opposition ranks. It was evident from the meeting called by Congress President Sonia Gandhi that the parties have to deal with their own ambitions first,” says a senior BJP leader. The SP was invited for the virtual meeting but it was missing. The BSP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were not invited. With SP having made it clear that it is not going to ally with any party, especially the Congress, in the UP elections, it probably thought it better to skip the meeting. Congress is not comfortable doing business with either BSP or AAP.
“The Opposition parties have to first figure out how they are going to keep their electoral fights in the states away from their attempts at uniting at the national level. It is not an easy proposition. It can only be achieved if their hatred for the BJP is more than their personal ambitions – something that is probably not the case,” the BJP leader adds.