Monday, 30th October 2017

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BJP rides the ‘lion’ for elections

The party is striving to re-ignite a 2014-like wave in favour of Modi

By J.P. Yadav in New Delhi
  • Published 16.03.19, 4:59 AM
  • Updated 16.03.19, 4:59 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi Picture by PTI

The BJP on Friday tweeted a combination video of clips of two speeches of Narendra Modi, one from 1992 and the other from 2019, with a caption proclaiming that “the attitude of lions doesn’t change”, underlining the party’s effort to turn the upcoming general election into a referendum on the leader.

The BJP is striving to re-ignite a 2014-like wave in favour of Modi by over-stressing a perceived threat to national security if the country returns to the coalition era led by fractious Opposition parties.

The top leadership believes that turning the Lok Sabha polls into a referendum on Modi, riding on the narrative of a “strong leader”, is the only way to secure a 2014-like majority on its own.

The first clip of Modi’s speech, dated January 24, 1992, is from the “Ekta Yatra” led by then party chief Murli Manohar Joshi to unfurl the Tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Republic Day.

Modi, who had been managing the yatra, is seen at a public meeting daring the terrorists, who had threatened the BJP against hoisting the national flag at Lal Chowk.

“On January 26, the day after tomorrow, it will be decided at Lal Chowk who has drunk his mother’s milk,” Modi says in the short clip, while pointing out that terrorists had put up posters at Lal Chowk threatening to kill anyone who dares to unfurl the national flag.

In the second clip, dated March 4, 2019, in the aftermath of the February 14 terror strike in Kashmir’s Pulwama, Modi says at a rally in Bihar: “The fire that is burning in your heart, countrymen, the same fire burns in my heart too. Even if they are under the earth, they will not be spared. I can’t wait long. It is my nature to settle scores.”

A tweet in Hindi along with the video said: “The attitude of lions doesn’t change.”

The intention was clear — to project Modi as a daredevil and strong leader when it comes to national security.

The BJP strategy, according to party managers, is to unceasingly try to make Modi the cornerstone of the elections to shift attention from anti-incumbency over the perceived economic failures of the government, the farm distress and joblessness.

“It will be only Modi and Modi in the polls. We will turn this into a presidential-style election,” a BJP general secretary said. “We will overwhelm the voters with the idea that Modi is the only alternative before the country,” he added.

Following the Pulwama terror attack and particularly after the retaliatory air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot targeting Jaish-e-Mohammed camps, the BJP has been steadfastly trying to keep the issue alive, hoping the anti-Pakistan/terror bogie would generate a Modi wave before the polls.

Fearing that the euphoria among the masses over the air strikes might dissipate by the time the votes are cast, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to keep the issue alive.

BJP leaders, led by finance minister Arun Jaitley and party chief Amit Shah, are writing blogs, holding media conferences and posting on Twitter. Party MPs and leaders have been asked to make use of every opportunity to paint the Congress pro-Pakistan with a dilly-dallying attitude towards terrorism.

“Apart from talking about the various welfare schemes, the constant focus during the campaign would be on the tough stand taken by the Modi government against Pakistan-sponsored terrorists,” a BJP MP said.

The MP felt that the Congress was falling into the BJP’s trap by engaging on terror and the Chinese veto on the UN designating Jaish chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

While keeping the Pakistan/terrorism pot boiling, the focus is on repeatedly stressing that Modi is the only “strong and decisive” leader that the country needs. BJP leaders believe that doing so would sway the masses and turn the tide in the party’s favour when the votes are polled in April-May.