Recently political news was dominated by Prashant Kishor taking over the Congress Party. In corporate language, it is called “ Mergers & Acquisitions.“ Big companies merge when they need to become profitable. Similarly, what Prashant Kishor proposed to the Congress was “ Merger & Acquisition“ deal, whereby Congress leaders Gandhis would get some power (stakes) and yet lose management control. The world’s biggest companies today are the result of such mergers. Prashant Kishor nearly engineered such a deal with the Congress.
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Prashant Kishor and the Gandhis failed to agree for various reasons. During his talks with Congress, Prashant Kishor pointed out the strengths of the Congress and weaknesses of the BJP. Though the deal failed, the BJP should thank Prashant Kishor, since he publicly exposed many weaknesses of the BJP. The BJP looks strong and Narendra Modi’s leadership invincible. But there are many deadly holes in the BJP.
Ship Titanic was supposed to be un-sinkable
The great ship Titanic was built in 1912 and sank in its first voyage. The Titanic looked so strong that every expert said that it cannot sink. But it sank in 1912, on its first voyage, when it hit on an iceberg. No one expected that a small iceberg would hit and sink the un-sinkable Titanic. Similarly, the BJP under Narendra Modi looks like the Titanic and un-sinkable. But Prashant Kishor has brought out many weaknesses of BJP during his talks with Gandhis.
Prashant Kishor told the Congress that the BJP had many weaknesses and it could be defeated in 2024, though Modi’s reputation was high. Kishor said Congress should focus on the small weaknesses of the BJP and not fight everywhere. One should thank critics for pointing out weaknesses and Kishor should be thanked for showing the BJP where it is vulnerable.
Anything is possible in politics, if we remember two long held truths. One is that ‘politics is the art of the possible “ as the great Bernard Shaw said. It means that there can even be an alliance of enemies in politics. Secondly, as former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson said 55 years ago ‘A week is a long time in politics.”
The BJP has been winning elections since 2014 as a strong nationalistic, non-dynastic party. The BJP also has assured India of a strong response to both Pakistan and China, who have been encouraging terrorism for 50 years and illegal immigration. The BJP has also never been hesitant to support Hinduism.
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The BJP election machinery led by Narendra Modi has been found to be nearly un-defeatable. The BJP has grown in States where it never existed like North East, Assam, Bengal and Odisha. The BJP has been growing in the Southern states as well.
After its disastrous defeat in 2014, the Gandhis thought that very soon people will get fed up with Narendra Modi and Congress will win 2019 elections. But Modi secured a big victory in 2019. If the BJP wins 2024 elections, then Congress will face terminal decline.
BJP’s political space in India
The BJP faces strong regional parties in Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Maharashtra, Telengana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Odisha and Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi and Punjab. Elsewhere, the BJP faces the Congress in North East, Assam, Uttrakhand, Haryana, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat.
A careful study of results of the 2014 and 2019 parliament elections show that the BJP and the Congress faced each other directly in about 200 MP seats, of which BJP won 180 and Congress won only 20 MPs. This is actually a weak spot of the BJP. Even a little improvement by Congress in these 200 MP seats will bring defeat to BJP. That is what Prashant Kishor reportedly pointed out to the Congress leaders.
The Congress’ disastrous defeat in 5-State elections in March, 2022, led to wide demands that Gandhis leave the Congress leadership. Then Prashant Kishor offered Gandhis a “Rescue Plan.“
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Prashant Kishor’s Rescue Plan
Prashant Kishor informed the Gandhis that the Congress is a very strong party and it can come to power, provided certain changes are made. The Gandhis jumped at this ‘Rescue Plan,“ as it will give them time and stop internal criticism that they are ruining the party.
1. Prashant Kishor said that Congress Party must ally with regional parties wherever possible. There is no point of Congress fighting Mamata Banerjee, Jagan Mohan Reddy or KCR. Prashant Kishor is their adviser and he will get Congress a deal with them.
2. Since no party wants to ally with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha, it must fight there alone.
3. The Congress should focus on the nearly 200 MPs where it faces a direct fight with the BJP. Right now, the Congress wins only about 20 MPs out of 200 MPs in such areas.
4. Prashant Kishor also said that there was no point in fighting who will lead the opposition. Let the elections be over and as he controls many regional parties, he will manage regional parties.
The above four points made by Kishor are correct. They are so obvious that the Congress ignored them, like the Titanic never imagined that a drifting iceberg would sink it. The Titanic had great plans for mechanical failure or facing a storm or a fire on the ship. But it was never prepared for a small iceberg hitting the Titanic. The danger for the BJP is Congress-BJP states.
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BJP faces a challenge
- The BJP has been winning nearly 95% of the MP seats in some states, where the Congress is its only rival. It is difficult to keep winning such a high percentage of MPs, as anti-incumbency will arise. This is a big challenge for BJP to maintain complete domination over states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Karnataka. Kishor suggested focusing on a few MP seats in such States.
- The BJP also has lost critical allies like the Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena. Punjab and Maharashtra are now two danger states for the BJP . Maharashtra is particularly a bad state, since the BJP is isolated.
- The BJP is also uniting its enemies. A good politician will ensure that his enemies remain divided. But the BJP has made enemies out of neutral politicians KCR and Mamata Banerjee. Nearly a 100 years, English writer Oscar Wilde famously said : “ You can’t be too careful in choosing your enemies”. He meant be careful with whom you make enemies. Mamata Banerjee and KCR were enemies of the Congress. Now both KCR and Mamata Banerjee may work with the Congress. BJP has succeeded in uniting its enemies. The British formulated the “Divide and rule“and ruled India. BJP is making enemies unite.
- BJP has also been needlessly focusing on the Gandhis. The BJP should have adopted a strategy of ignoring the Gandhis and deprive them of “media attention“. By attacking the Gandhis, the BJP has enhanced their media-value. There is “overkill “ in attacking the Gandhis. Kishor pointed out that though the Gandhis were weak leaders, the BJP, by attacking them, has made their name survive.
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- Maharashtra biggest threat to BJP
- The BJP and its ally Shiv sena won 40 MPs out of 48 MPs in 2019 in Maharashtra. But now the Shiv sena is allied with Congress and Sharad Pawar. This is the biggest threat for BJP. It is nearly impossible for the BJP to form a government in Delhi unless it gets a majority of MPs in Maharashtra .
- The BJP has maxed out in many States. It cannot do any better there. But there is the danger that it will lose seats in Bengal, Karnataka , Maharashtra and the Hindi states. Even losing 20% of the MPs there will deprive the BJP of a majority.
BJP has to develop new strategies
The BJP should ensure that it does not lose too many MPs, in States where it is dominant. The BJP must ensure that its enemies don’t unite. BJP should ensure that it reduces focus on Congress and Gandhis to reduce their importance. BJP should try for more allies or at least lessen the anger of some regional parties.
The BJP is also suffering from poor leaders and has many failed leaders like Fadnavis in Maharashtra, Bommai in Karnataka, no leaders in Rajasthan or Chhattisgarh. Maybe the BJP is also becoming like the Congress?
Narendra Modi is the most popular politician in India. But can a great general win without talented officers?
Why did the Titanic captain ignore the warnings?
Warnings were given to the ship Titanic captain that there were icebergs nearby. But the message did not reach the captain. But Prashant Kishor has now given Narendra Modi the warnings. The Congress need only win small victories to defeat the BJP, just like a small iceberg sunk the un-sinkable Titanic in 1912.
Maybe, BJP will re-hire Prashant Kishor!