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PM Modi's third straight term at Centre almost an inevitability

After assembly wins in three states, PM Modi himself didn't hold back from predicting that "this hat-trick has guaranteed the 2024 victory", the column noted.

PM Modis third straight term at Centre almost an inevitability

Narendra Modi (ANI)

NEW DELHI: The hat-trick of victories in three state assemblies, combined with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's immense popularity and emotive issues such as the Ram Temple inauguration in Ayodhya, has made a third, straight term for the BJP at the Centre 'almost an inevitability', read a column in the UK-based daily, The Guardian.

The column, by Hannah Ellis-Peterson, pointed to the saffron sweep in the three heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan have added more strength and momentum to the BJP going into the crucial Lok Sabha elections next year.

After assembly wins in three states, PM Modi himself didn't hold back from predicting that "this hat-trick has guaranteed the 2024 victory", the column noted.

In India's current political landscape, the consensus among political analysts is that a win for Modi and the BJP is the "most plausible outcome", Ellis-Peterson added in her piece.

"The prime minister's popularity as a political strongman, alongside the BJP's Hindu nationalist agenda, continues to appeal to the large Hindu majority of the country, particularly in the populous Hindi belt of the north", the column read, adding, "At the state and national level, the apparatus of the country has been skewed heavily towards the BJP since Modi was elected (PM) in 2014".

The column noted further that while the regional opposition to the BJP was strong in pockets of south and east India, nationally it is seen as 'fragmented and weak'.

"The main opposition -- Indian National Congress -- won the state election in Telangana this month but is in power in only three states overall and is perceived as "hierarchical and riddled with infighting", The Guardian reported.

"The recently formed coalition of all major opposition parties -- which goes by the acronym INDIA -- is yet to unite on crucial issues, though it has vowed to fight the BJP collectively," the piece read further, adding, "The general sense is that a BJP win is almost an inevitability at this stage," said Neelanjan Sircar, a fellow at the Centre for Policy Research. "The question is more: what factors will shape the scale of the victory?"

Pointing to the BJP's 'nationwide pre-election push' -- 'Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra', the column stated that it features the deployment of 'thousands of government officers' to towns and villages across the country over the next two months, "tasked with speaking about the BJP's successes over the past nine years".

The Ministry of Defence is also setting up 822 'selfie points' at war memorials, defence museums, railway stations and tourist attractions where people can take photos of themselves with a cutout of PM Modi, The Guardian reported.

"PM Modi rose to power in 2014 largely on the back of an anti-incumbency wave while his re-election victory in 2019 was all but secured after India carried out airstrikes on Pakistan, after a terrorist incident a few months before the polls, resulting in a storm of national security sentiment in his favour," wrote Ellis-Petersen.

However, she added in her piece that it was 'unclear' if the BJP would be able to repeat its landslide mandate like 2019.

The party's position remains uncertain in the crucial states of Bihar and Maharashtra, the column noted, adding that issues such as 'jobs and inflation' could affect voting the pattern.

"BJP's dominant victories in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh have reaffirmed PM Modi's popularity. Though (the) PM has little to do with state elections, which are designed to elect local assembly members, the BJP strategically put Modi front and centre of their campaigns in the place of local leaders, where he appeared at dozens of rallies to directly appeal to voters and present himself as the embodiment of the party," The Guardian column read further.

It added that "PM Modi's messaging in these campaign speeches combined an emphasis on the BJP's paternalistic welfare schemes along with (an) nationalistic agenda".

The column commended PM Modi's "role in elevating India as a global power - be that in international politics or in the recent its moon landing in August".

On the grand opening of the Ram Temple by PM Modi on January 22, the column noted that it was "one of the biggest issues likely to dominate the BJP's agenda" before the general elections.

The 'fanfare' around the inauguration of the temple later is expected to be a national event, the piece read.

The column quoted Baijayant Panda, the national vice president of the BJP, as saying that the party was very confident about its prospects for the Lok Sabha polls.

He credited the confidence in part to 'the Modi premium', elaborating that the BJP tended to perform better in national than state elections because of the "stratospheric popularity" of Prime Minister Modi, according to The Guardian.

"On the ground, there's a huge surge of optimism, even in areas which we haven't traditionally won", Panda was quoted as saying in the report.

"Having had this kind of victory in the state elections completely cements our position," he added.

Amid concerns by some detractors around a third term for PM Modi and what it portends for the country, Panda affirmed that it would be defined by economic success and India becoming the world's third-largest major economy.

Pushing back against allegations of communalism against the BJP, Panda added, "I dare anyone to point out where a minority, whether a Muslim or a Christian or Buddhist or a Sikh has been discriminated against in the governance of India, you will not find a single example."

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