The Bharatiya Janata Party has done the expected in presenting a trenchant charge sheet coinciding with the commencement of the United Progressive Alliance’s final year in office. Like any Opposition worth its salt, the BJP loves a good fight and the Manmohan Singh government has made the competition’s job easy by getting almost everything wrong in its second term. Unfortunately, if the ruling alliance has erred without respite, the principal Opposition too has ceaselessly played shouting brigade with little to show for its exertions. Now comes a twist in the tale in the form of Narendra Modi’s dramatic entry in affairs so far strictly the business of the BJP’s central leadership. Since his admission into the BJP’s elite Parliamentary Board, the Gujarat Chief Minister has made Delhi his second home, and logged impressive hours meeting the who’s who of his party. On Tuesday he took his new role to the next level with a strong intervention in the Parliamentary Board. His pitch: the BJP must get real in its war against the government, and to do this it must harness the social media’s potential and focus on its own performing governments such as in Gujarat.
Mr. Modi knows his strengths are a worshipping middle class and a rank and file fidgeting to have him run for Prime Minister. He knows too that the road to that destination is not easy. The Janata Dal (United), and surprisingly, even the Shiv Sena, have already drawn red lines on Mr. Modi’s candidature. But more critically for the Gujarat Chief Minister, he faces resistance from within the BJP. L.K. Advani, who previously could not stop praising Mr. Modi, has taken to looking sullen, while Sushma Swaraj has outlined a complicated three-stage procedure for deciding who, if anyone, will lead the party into the general election. It is obvious enough that Mr. Modi’s PR offensive — including a tweet on a “wonderful” meeting with Mr. Advani — is aimed at winning over the BJP biggies. Over the coming months, the pressure on the party to decide one way or another will increase even as Mr. Modi systematically raises his profile by directly engaging the public. So far he has concentrated on the big idea — of a new, aspirational India led by its young. But in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP needs to make a serious gain if it intends to win election-2014, the opposite message is going out with the party pressing into action Modi acolyte Amit Shah and Hindutva poster boy Varun Gandhi. There is enough and more in the backgrounds of the two men to suggest that their mere presence will polarise Hindi heartland votes on religious lines — something that can only unite all the rest against the BJP and Mr. Modi.