Modi-Shah Team Is Too ConfidentPolitics is mostly about perceptions. If people think that a particular party is doing badly, it will do badly. The perception in 2014 was that Congress was doing badly and it did badly. But 2018 is a different time. The popular perception is that Rahul Gandhi is not as much of a pappu as he was made out to be. It is also believed that the Congress, though a spent force, is trying to put the pieces together and bring itself out of the stupor it went into after successive hammerings from the BJP. It is also believed that the BJP is doing badly in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Couple this with the inability of the BJP to enter the south, its feeble presence in the east and its problems elsewhere (especially UP, where the SP-BSP combine is giving it sleepless nights) and the popular perception is that the NDA is going to do badly in 2019.
By A Special Correspondent
But Narendra Modi and Amit Shah think differently. For them, the index of opposition unity is non-existent and they hope that the NDA will emerge victorious riding on divided opposition votes. There is no doubt that the NDA has brought in many good reforms and has taken the economy forward. It was the resilience of the economy and the effect of the prudent policies that it could withstand two massive disruptions in the form of demonetization and GST and still bounce back. But those are calculations made in seminars, drawing rooms and watering holes. In the bazaars, the talk is about rising prices and bure din. People say they are more or less in similar condition or less happy now than they were in 2014. They say that incomes have not risen as fast as have the prices of essentials. Everyone agrees that Modi needs one more term to finish his work or bring it in line but not many are willing to give it to him.
Hence, it would be prudent for Modi-Shah not to be arrogant. Vajpayee did well in his term and came out with the India Shining campaign to drive home the point. He was considered a much better PM than Modi across caste, religion and region. But he still failed to win another term. The biggest mistake that Modi has made is that he has allowed the fringe to make a mockery of his sabka saath sabka vikas promise. Despite being powerful, he failed to stop these miscreants from persecuting people over dress, eating habits, work habits and cow protection. He was not strict in stopping attacks on minorities and Dalits. He allowed his development agenda to get lost. The position now is that despite doing good work, Naremdra Modi is not as popular as he was in 2014. Call it anti-incumbency, but the fact is that the 2014 jumlas are going to haunt Modi in 2019.