Its impending loss in this election could be a blessing in disguise

And, the winner is Congress: Which is to say the Congress may have won the 2016 general election by losing 2014.

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi seems to be struggling just a bit. The party leadership has been at sixes and sevens over allotting him a seat. In Uttar Pradesh, Murli Manohar Joshi and Lalji Tandon will challenge party president Rajnath Singh (read Modi) in ticket distribution. The rumbles of discord are evident in Karnataka as well. The LK Advani camp exercises influence over a number of state units even if Modi is popular with the masses. At this rate, Modi’s candidates may not enjoy the full backing of the local unit of the party.

Modi’s thrust for power has been blunted by RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat’s instruction that the sangh’s cadres should not promote a personality cult. This could confuse the rank and file of the BJP.

The BJP is still a favourite but it may stumble at the altar, with Modi looking a trifle flustered these days by the attack on his economic record and allegations of “corporate leanings” and “media manipulation”. We could then have a ragtag Third Front or Federal Front with no worthwhile economic or social programme. The Aam Aadmi Party, which has been the enfant terrible, may continue to set the agenda.

The prevailing bedlam allows the Congress two more years, the possible duration of the next government, to set its house in order. It has slipped in the people’s esteem despite legislating welfare into a right in the case of food, employment and education. It now plans to provide cheap healthcare to a large section of the population. Unlike in 2009, price rise and unemployment have negated the goodwill these initiatives (including the land Bill) could have generated.

The Congress’ suave economy managers are to blame for this slide. Stagflation and corruption flourished under their watch. The chaos in the other camps, however, gives the party time to regroup — with earnest economists and better candidates. The fear of AAP could work in its favour.

As for the BJP bouncing back next time round, the fatigue of a high-pitched personality campaign will start to show.

Senior Assistant Editor

(This article was published on March 14, 2014)
XThese are links to The Hindu Business Line suggested by Outbrain, which may or may not be relevant to the other content on this page. You can read Outbrain's privacy and cookie policy here.