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Kajal Agrawal

IS 2024 Is a Repeat of 2004? Featured

  29 April 2024

Modi made a strategic blunder in throttling Congress bank accounts, arresting Arvind Kejriwal, and threatening the opposition.

After the end of the second phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, a few key takeaways emerge

1) The voter is fed up of lies, spin-doctoring and subpar propaganda. They trust no one. But after ten years in power, the trust-deficit with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is highest.

2) There is a huge fatigue factor with Narendra Modi; the standard accusations of dynasty, appeasement and corruption tag are not working at all, as people see the same in the BJP and probably worse. Strange as it may sound, he is both the BJP’s asset and a liability.

3) The anti-Muslim/minorities polarisation of Modi is not working and has further damaged his credibility. The crude, vulgar and cheap potshots have angered the sensibilities of the common Indian or at least left them extremely dismayed.

4) Modi/BJP thought that the 2024 election was done and dusted after the consecration ceremony of the Ram Temple. But barring a few pockets in northern India, the feel-good factor is having negligible impact as an electoral factor. India has moved on to bread-and-butter issues – the BJP’s Achilles heel – unemployment and inflation etc.

5) The arrogance of power led to Modi announcing a sure-shot victory of 370 seats; this has led to a counterwave in support of the underdog, the Congress/INDIA alliance. The voters don’t like to be taken for granted, especially when the incumbent has actually underdelivered, and the alternative, despite its problems, seems more sincere.

6) Modi made a strategic blunder in throttling the Congress’s bank accounts, arresting Arvind Kejriwal and threatening the opposition. That has since become the national narrative of the 2024 elections; fear and hate is being seen as Modi’s legacy, two very powerful human emotions. What started out as a funny description has now become the BJP’s political brand: It is a washing machine. Every Indian knows and castigates the politics of vendetta. The ED/CBI/Income Tax trimurti abuse is the albatross around the BJP’s neck. The electoral bonds scam drove a huge nail in the coffin.

7) The Congress manifesto has become the talking point of the 2024 elections: it is democratic, liberal, fair, inclusive and has something for everyone. It is a masterpiece, and the Congress has distributed it aggressively. By ridiculing the same with communal slurs, all repugnant lies, Modi has only accelerated its curiosity and ended up getting more to know about it. Women, youth, farmers, the poor and the socially/economically disadvantaged, middle-class, industry (no threats of tax terrorism) would all benefit from it.

8) Rahul Gandhi has got under the skin of Modi and the BJP. For long maligned and vilified through a misinformation/disinformation campaign by the BJP IT cell, his two successful Bharat Jodo/Nyay Yatras have transformed his image and confidence. Modi may still sound bombastic on a teleprompter but he comes across as a petty theatrical performer; Rahul, no matter what his critics say, is refreshingly authentic. People like him, they trust him. In 2014, every time the Congress attacked Modi, the latter gained. Now the more the BJP mocks him, the higher goes Rahul’s graph. It is a dramatic reversal.

9) Have you noticed how little the BJP talks of the first-time voters? Because Gen Z is more tuned to political realities; they are deeper into issues like governance, inclusiveness, climate change, mental health, social media regulation, jobs etc. The youth are not getting conned by the TV hype or WhatsApp University forwards. The millennials have borne the brunt of many economic crises, political upheavals, globalisation backlash, fake news and authoritarian leaders, and allowed themselves to be seduced by the PR and publicity. They misconstrued leadership to be tough and hard even at the cost of freedom of expression. Gen Z has challenged that. And that will have a huge bearing in this election.



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