The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its manifesto for upcoming Lok Sabha elections on April 8. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only person who confidently stands on the cover page of the manifesto, his glasses so transparent that you can look directly into his eyes. ‘Sankalpit Bharat, Sashakt Bharat’ is the slogan printed on the cover page which means ‘Decisive India, Strong India.
The whole content of the manifesto reflects the shift from creating jobs and strengthening economic growth to nationalism. The surgical strikes of 2016 and the Balakot strikes of February 2019, both are briefly discussed in the manifesto.
Comparing it with 2014 poll manifesto when the Modi government was came into power on the back of Anna’s anti-corruption movement which demolished the Congress party. The cover page of 2014 manifesto was mentioned all the BJPs leading faces. From Atal Bihari Vajpayee to L.K. Advani to Murli Manohar Joshi and Rajnath Singh to younger leaders like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje. Everyone was there in the manifesto while Modi still held front and centre; he had the biggest photo on the cover. Now he is one of many and the captain of the BJP Eleven that is Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi.
Sadly, this time L.K. Advani was not even the part of BJPs manifesto launching ceremony. There was no telephone call, no courtesy call, nothing asking him to come to the manifesto launch. Even past president Murli Manohar Joshi was not invited.
The six-time MP from Gandhinagar and BJP founder gave way to party president Amit Shah a weeks ago, who is now standing from the seat. Advani’s last blog on how the BJP was never in favour of demonising the political opposition and calling them “anti-national” did the trick of erasing him altogether from Modi’s pantheon.
However, what happened with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj? No wonder she has said she will not contest the 2019 election. Having been more marginalised from decision-making in India’s foreign policy, in favour of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Swaraj kept her pride safe this time.
Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, former chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, didn’t find their places on the cover page of the manifesto, it’s just because they lost their states. But what about home minister, head of the manifesto committee Rajnath Singh?
As the BJP goes into Loksabha 2019 polls, one man leads the army. Everyone else is a lieutenant and no BJP candidates fighting this election, including those close to the RSS.
Certainly, the BJP will fight tooth and nail for every seat but the fight is taking place in name of Narendra Modi. The candidate is irrelevant, he or she doesn’t matter. Interestingly, the Modi machine is being challenged in 2019 which is the most important story of this election.
Despite of their differences and ego clashes and unhealthy past, the UP’s ‘Mahagathbandhan’ offers the voter an alternative to Modi and the BJP.