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The BJP’s 2019 plan is banking on Modi’s leadership, welfare and a divided Opposition

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s national executive meeting over the weekend provided a glimpse of the ruling party’s strategy for the 2019 elections. Schemes like Ujjwala (distribution of gas cylinders), Jan Dhan (financial inclusion), Saubhagya (electrification for all), the hike in Minimum Support Prices for farmers, and Ayushman Bharat have emerged as key issues that will constitute the party’s platform in 2019.

Updated: Sep 10, 2018 10:25:23

Hindustan Times

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah during the BJP’s national executive meeting in Delhi on September 9. (PTI)

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s national executive meeting over the weekend provided a glimpse of the ruling party’s strategy for the 2019 elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah focused on the achievements of the government, particularly in the sphere of social welfare and benefits to the more marginalised sections of society. Schemes such as Ujjwala (distribution of gas cylinders), Jan Dhan (financial inclusion), Saubhagya (electrification for all), hike in Minimum Support Prices for farmers, and Ayushman Bharat have emerged as key issues that will constitute the party’s platform in 2019.

There are three significant dimensions to this approach. For one, it is a part of the BJP’s continued effort to break out of the perception that it is an urban, middle-class outfit, and portray itself as the vehicle for India’s poor. Two, it is an effort to expand the party’s social base for there is a strong overlap in caste and class in India. The poor often come from the backward, Dalit and tribal communities — welfare is a mode to reach them. And finally, it is an acknowledgement that the government’s record on economic growth and jobs — a major promise in 2014 — is mixed and thus the platform needs to be reoriented to ‘development with a human face’. The second key theme that emerged in the party’s executive is that 2019 will be marked by a fierce attack on the idea of the ‘mahagatbandhan’ (grand alliance). PM Modi argued this alliance did not have a leader; its policies were unclear; it was driven by “ill-intent”; there was no political or ideological understanding; and the leaders could not tolerate each other. Shah emphasised that the BJP had defeated the alliance constituents in 2014 in any case.

The BJP is banking on two factors here. For one, it believes that Modi has no match in the opposition ranks, and this will probably be the single most important election card. Two, it thinks that juxtaposing the possibility of a stable government with the sight of a chaotic Opposition, and fragmented political parties, will steer the voter towards the incumbent again. The 2019 election will be fought on these twin planks of welfare along with leadership and stable government.

First Published: Sep 09, 2018 19:55:47

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