Elections 2024: what is the wave in the ground

Bhubaneswar: Phase four of the Lok Sabha election is approaching, there are several questions have arisen in the minds of the people. The major concerns on the grounds of various states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Telangana etc. are the BJP and RSS workers in some pockets of the ground are not as energized, there are questions about how the turnout should be raided, the question also arises on how the prime minister suddenly mysteriously invoked the name of the Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani to target the congress. It remains a huge question that BJP vs who because the INDA alliance still does not have a central face, whether the religious polarization works on the ground, the prime minister talking about religious quota claiming that the congress will take from OBCs and give to the Muslims whereas congress says there is no such mention in their manifesto. But Rahul Gandhi seems to be doubling and tripping down his agendas of caste and formative action.

The Hindu resurgence had gone to the minds of the people, especially the younger generation. The Hinduisation of the Hindu has taken place. It is not necessarily a malignant force, it is a benign force. It is not that those Hindus in the Ganga Ghats are anti-Muslims. During the first and the second phases of the election, it was interesting that there was hardly any Modi wave in the western UP areas. Though Modi continues to be popular among people, there is no denying that. Moreover, it is not a Hindu-Muslim election. So say, 2014 was a Hindu Muslim election and the epicentre was Muzaffarnagar, western UP. In that very constituency, the candidates and the voters said this time in 2024 it is not a Hindu Muslim election.

The report card of the BJP and Modi’s leadership was different but the voters’ turnout was certainly not as expected in the first two rounds. But what was found out is that in these constituencies the voter turnout from the Muslim community was large numbers. But in Hindu localities, people have not come out in that large numbers. As it is rightly noted that the BJP and the RSS vote banks have not come out as expected the reason might be the attitude of a done deal. The RSS cadre was also not campaigning for the BJP as they were done in the previous elections. It was seen both in UP and Maharashtra.

During the third phase of the election, the prime minister completely shifted the gears, changing the narrative, changing the tempo, in a very strident manner. The speeches of the PM took the narrative back to the old tried and tested Hindu-Muslim polarization. It probably is the reason to use the tried and tested weapon is that the report card seemed not to be working as expected in the initial two phases. The BJP thought the Ram Temple would be the Pulwama of 2024, but it did not turn out that way. People have their pride, faith, and sentiments for the Ram Templreligiouspolorisation,e but when it comes to identifying the major factors for voting BJP the mandir is not on the top priority list.

After the 1992 poll, the temple has not been the core issue in elections except for the major constituencies of the BJP. The party kept repeating that the mandir would be there but the benefit of it has gone to Narendra Modi. He was the one leader who got it done, people especially talked about it. Mandir per se is not a top poll issue. It seems contracting that people, on the other hand, appreciate Modi for keeping his promise on the mandir, Article 370, but it does not translate into an electoral issue. Maybe the temple has happened or peaked a bit too early or probably something remains as stagnant when it is done and achieved rather than the value it holds during the period of struggle to get it.

In the election campaign, the prime minister suddenly chose to mention Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, whereas Rahul Gandhi’s focus on Adani and Ambani has not worked on the ground. Now the prime minister has mainstreamed it. The people on the ground are not even thinking about it. Then it is a mysterious question why the prime minister brought this issue to the front. Whether the PM did it to confuse everybody, change the rhetoric, spread a fake narrative or just carried away. It is a mysterious reference to understand.

When it comes to the opposition side, Rahul Gandhi made a very spirited comment on the Adani, anabani issue but then the Gandhis decided not to fight Amethi. The message implies that the decision looks fine logically but politically it could have been better to have contested from both places.  If Priyanka stood from Raiberaily and Rahul from Amethi it would have been a direct message that the Congress has arrived to take back UP no matter how much time it takes and they are not shying away from the battle. Rahul Gandhi leaving either Raiberaily or Waynad after winning either of the constituencies would send an unpleasant signal anyway. The factor of the north-south divide, the southern states having a sense of unease with a lot of issues, will crop up to be resolved with proper instrumentalities.

Everybody thought this election was going to be boring, long and a done deal. The opposition seems to be getting some life at the ground level kicking in. There is competition in constituencies where it was not expected to be like for example in UP and Maharashtra. People consider Mofi as their favourite leader, prime minister and so on but there is a sense of caveating and qualifying amongst the voters as well as the workers. They are capable of holding more than one thought at the same time. Some say Modi as a prime minister is very welcoming in the centre but at the regional level, people can measure the actions and political moves very qualitative manner. The voters and workers are seeing both things simultaneously, though there is no anti-modem sentiment. There may be a sense of dissatisfaction which is inevitable after a ten-year tenure but there is no anger among people for Modi. Modi is still their favourite political brand and a very popular leader.

The expectation from Modi in the third term is much more. It is not that he has done very well, we are very happy and everything is sorted. The scenario is like the temple is made, other economic and other aspects are achieved but now we want Modi to focus on employment. This is the intention of the people.