I have been one of the several political observers who has had the opportunity to look at the 2019 Lok Sabha elections up close right from India. This has been a rather refreshing change from what I had experienced in Australia, elections and campaigning in so called ‘Developed Nations’ is rather dull and unattractive in nature, while in India they are nothing less than the ‘Festival of Democracy’.
The current 2019 Lok Sabha elections which runs for 7 phases requires nothing short of a ‘monstrous effort’ from all Indian politicians, cutting across the multi party spectrum. Considering the extreme nature of India’s summer, this election suggests that all our politicians should turn into warriors to campaign. Hence it is safe to say that this election is like that of a Kshatriya’s (warrior’s) battle, by Kshatriya I infer their guna (behavior) not title by birth.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, whose endorsement to Prime Minister-ship resounded right from Tamil Nadu, begun his campaign with the ‘Rafale Saga’. By terming the Rafale deal as corrupt, he took the attack right from the Raksha Mantri (Defense Minister) Nirmala Sitharaman to the Pradhana Mantri (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi.
The battle became so intense that Congress Chief managed to coin the term ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ (The guard is a thief), the popularity of this slogan can be asserted by the fact that even the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) partner Shiva Sena had endorsed this. “Halli paharekarich chorya karaylaa laagale aahet. (Today, security persons have themselves become thieves),” Shiva Sena supremo Uddhav Thackery said in Marathi while addressing a rally in Solapur district.
Without getting into the factual accuracies or inaccuracies of this Rafale Saga, it is safe to suggest that this fight did earn Rahul Gandhi several accolades. Several Indians, including fans of PM Modi started to believe that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has hidden skeletons behind this alleged scam. People from the southern part of India were almost certain that Modi was the mastermind behind the scam and hence ‘a narrative was built’.
Things were looking rather bleak for the BJP camp, as their spokespersons were making statements like headless chickens in all prime time debates, in-order to defend the alleged Rafale scam. With new details emerging everyday and BJP turncoats Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha were clearly strengthening the opposition campaign, BJP was clearly losing the perception war.
Say it's a national security issue.
The current facts seem to establish that it's a case of criminal misconduct. pic.twitter.com/DfpFfougxd
— Ankit Lal (@AnkitLal) August 8, 2018
Even as the Congress was upping the ante on Rafale issue, the Pulwama tragedy thrust the Nation into great sorrow due to the death of 40+ Indian jawans. Adhil Dar, the 20 year old terrorist warned India, referring to its people as “drinkers of cow urine”, of “further misery” to be unleashed by “Allah’s messengers”.
The Narendra Modi led Central Government’s swift retaliation to the Pulwama attack, in the form of Balakot airstrike, brought in memories of the inaction of Congress during 26/11 terror attacks. While Congress desperately tried to deviate the credit for this attack to Indian Air Force (IAF), the Indian voter quickly understood to whom the actual credit must go to. India has never been a ‘Military Government’ unlike Pakistan, orders are taken only from the Civilian Government, this increased the ratings of Narendra Modi without campaigning.
Finally Modi decided to jump into the election bandwagon himself, evidence of the same was a dazzling roadshow on 25th April 2019 in Varanasi, followed by filing of nomination papers in the next day along with all the NDA allies. A sea of BJP supporters awaited Narendra Modi as he showcased his popularity to the opposition in a single move, clearly re-establishing the ‘Modi Wave’ narrative of 2014.
— BJP (@BJP4India) April 26, 2019
The move not only shattered Rahul Gandhi’s campaign momentum but had also forced them into a back seat in the narrative building agenda. As Priyanka Gandhi Vadra refused to take Modi head on in the Varanasi seat, glimpses of discomfort started to creep into the Congress and all their supporters in the form of Media, Bollywood and ground workers. Ajai Rai, the Congress candidate from Varanasi, was quite open to admit the Congress party’s failure, as Priyanka was running away from a battle against Modi.
Next in the list was to smash the ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ campaign, this was done in a single move called ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ movement by adding the word Chowkidar to all BJP Minister’s official handles. What was dubbed by many in the opposition as a gimmick, unfortunately became a trend world wide. A simple count of the number of Twitter handles that have affixed Chowkidar word to their name will bust this ‘gimmick’ claim by the opposition.
Your Chowkidar is standing firm & serving the nation.
But, I am not alone.
Everyone who is fighting corruption, dirt, social evils is a Chowkidar.
Everyone working hard for the progress of India is a Chowkidar.
Today, every Indian is saying-#MainBhiChowkidar
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 16, 2019
Unfortunate for Rahul Gandhi, he was dealt with a final blow for this narrative when he tried to attribute his ‘Chowkidar Chor hai’ slogan against PM Modi while trying to assert an endorsement from the Supreme Court (SC) of India. BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi was quick to knock the steps of SC, the SC ensured he submitted an affidavit with an unconditional apology as he tried to obtain a mythical endorsement for his slogan from the Indian Judiciary.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has filed a three page affidavit stating his unconditional apology to Supreme Court for his remark on Rafale deal, "Supreme Court has accepted that "chowkidaar chor hai" https://t.co/UGBf8PR8D2
— ANI (@ANI) May 8, 2019
The last nail in the coffin to Congress’s failure in the perception war was when Narendra Modi took the battle to Rahul Gandhi, by calling his late father and the former PM of India as ‘Bhrashtachari No 1’ (Corrupt No 1). This had rattled the entire Congress party, and all they have been doing from 5th May 2019 is to employ their entire party’s machinery to defend Rajiv Gandhi and his legacy.
— Ankur Singh (@iAnkurSingh) May 5, 2019
The rekindling of INS Virat saga, Bhopal Gas tragedy, 1984 Sikh Riots and Bofors scandal was just a well laid trap into which the Congress party has got lost into. They were busy defending the legacy of a man, instead of actually fighting the elections. Several Indian journalists were quick to point out the hypocrisy in Congress as they began to cry ‘wolf’ over this remark of Narendra Modi.
Will someone explain why Bhrashtachari number 1 is offensive and Chowkidar Chor Hai polite?
— Tavleen Singh (@tavleen_singh) May 8, 2019
Rahul Gandhi’s response to Narendra Modi’s accusation of calling his father as ‘Corrupt No 1’ was also rather feeble, he wen’t ahead to claim about his ‘love for Modi’ instead of fighting the battle.
The battle is over. Your Karma awaits you. Projecting your inner beliefs about yourself onto my father won’t protect you.
All my love and a huge hug.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 5, 2019
A warrior is expected to be dutiful of his role and fight out all his battles however hard or personal they become, that is the Kshatriya Dharma. By bringing in a ‘Love & Hug’ campaign in the middle of a Kurukshetra for 2019, Rahul Gandhi had made his campaign more ‘abrahamic’ in nature, this is something Hindus will never be able to relate to.
While Narendra Modi will go ahead to form the Government for 2019, Rahul Gandhi still has a lot to learn about the ‘Gunas of a Kshatriya’, if at all he wants to win elections in India.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SatyaVijayi