There is always advantage to the first mover in war and games like Chess and Tennis. The same rule applies in the game of politics also if the moves taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi are any pointer. He made first moves to challenge the Congress in 2011, almost two and half years before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and achieved the desired results. Encouraged by this experience, Modi has initiated moves to retain his power in the ensuing 2019 Polls, with the elections due in little less than two years. Whether the dinner get-together of all 33 constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) or the National Executive conclave of his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Modi left no room for doubt that he is getting ready to secure fresh mandate in 2017 elections.
It may be recalled, Modi undertook three-day 'Sadbhavana Fast' at Gandhi Nagar in Gujarat in September 2011 with great fanfare only to indicate loud and clear that he was a serious player in the contest for the post of Prime Minist. The message was to the electorate in general and his intra-party opponents and aspirants for the coveted post in particular. This move yielded fantastic fruits and Modi always remained at the centre of attraction for the next two and half years. The Congress and its allies were compelled to give answers to Modi's allegations and charges and thus lost their points. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and the self proclaimed national leader Arvind Kejriwal left to nurse their wounds while Modi and the BJP were playing the trumpet of the historic victory.
‘Love & hate’ relationaship
Marching from his Fast to the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won three important elections for State Assembles of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and almost clinched the Delhi Assembly. Modi intends to follow the pattern for the 2019 electoral exercise also. He invited all 32 constituents of the NDA in Delhi for dinner and taking the opportunity, his lieutenants put forward a resolution to be passed at the end of the informal conclave. The neatly and carefully drafted resolution had all high praises for Modi and a resolve to stand by him in 2019 elections as united NDA. Now that the resolution is passed unanimously, it is morally binding to all small and big constituents stand by Modi in the years to come. This move has not only adhered to the unity of the NDA but has further strengthened the BJP.
The Shiv Sena that has been having 'love & hate' relationship with the BJP would find it difficult in the near future to behave with the 'elder brother' in Maharashtra. The Sena though a partner in power with the BJP at Maharashtra and the Central Government levels often crosses sword against the BJP and Modi and has even gone to the extent of declaring that the Sena would never have alliance with any party in future. The Sena Party Chief Uddhav Thackeray had gone to the extent of criticizing their alliance with the BJP for 25 years saying 'we decayed our 25 years by allying with the BJP'. Now the tamed tiger has to fall in line and follow the wishes of the 'big brother'.
Close on the heels of the 'Dinner Diplomacy', the BJP held its National Executive Meet at Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, the state run by Biju Janata Dal leader Chief Minister Navin Patnaik for the last 17 years. Considering that the state would go for the State Assembly elections later this year, the selection of the venue was perfect. While reaching the venue of the Conclave, Modi, in his usual style, undertook a huge 'Road Show' to exhibit his strength and sway over the masses. The fact that huge crowds gathered to cheer and greet the Indian Prime Minister, exhibited that the BJP would act as a serious challenger to the Biju Janata Dal if the latter continues to oppose it.
More significantly, Amit Shah, the most celebrated President of the BJP in recent years, in his opening remarks called upon the party leaders and workers to work to see that the Saffron Party achieves power from 'the Parliament to Panchayats'. This announcement made his plan clear that he wanted the BJP in power at every level. On one hand, just a week ago, the BJP had assured all its constituents to remain united to face the next elections and on the other hand, Shah vowed to win elections at each level. Now the question before the allies would be whether they would be party to the power or not. However, they have nowhere to go now.
Taking Muslims on his side
Modi in his speech spoke of protecting Muslims and providing them more help and reservations to progress. By doing this, he has successfully created or widened the gap between the up class and progressed Muslims and the unprivileged class within the Muslim community. This is a shrewd move. The micro-level analysis of the Uttar Pradesh elections, shows that the Muslim vote bank in the UP split this time with a large chunk of Muslims going BJP way. If the trend continues, surely the pattern would benefit the BJP in returning with more number and votes in the 2019 elections. Moreover, if this trend spreads in other states like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala where Muslims have the strength and numbers to tilt the balance of power, Modi stands to gain.
Immediately after completing the party's National Executive Committee extravaganza, Modi flew to Surat where again he spoke of uplifting those Muslim women who have been suffering for generations due to unfounded and outdated customs in the religion such as 'Triple Talaq'. No senior politician had so far dared to take stand against the Muslim traditions but Modi did. He spoke of removing this tradition that has no place in the Holy Quran. Apart from being a social reformer, here Modi also must have calculated the political benefits. If Muslim women and the educated youth stand by him in the coming years, it would take him and the BJP miles. The stigma of being a staunch Hindu Party that the BJP is carrying all these years can be wiped out if Modi actively acts against such traditions in Islam.
The new UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also spoke against 'Triple Talaq' the next day and raised many eye-brows. Was it a mere accident or coincidence that both Hindutva frontline leaders speak about reformation in Islam?