Jaitley dismisses ‘Mahagathbandhan’ as unviable

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (REUTERS File Photo)

Playing up the theme of uncertainty if a ragtag coalition came to power in 2019, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said it is “Modi versus chaos” in next Lok Sabha polls and ridiculed the Opposition's Kolkata rally as an event attended by "some octogenarians to satisfy their late-life ambitions".

"Some octogenarians reached Kolkata to satisfy their late-life ambitions,” Jaitley said about the rally which was attended by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda (85), Sharad Pawar (78), former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha (81) and Sharad Yadav (73).

Jaitley, who had during the BJP national council meeting recently, prescribed to party workers to centre the BJP’s 2019 campaign on the leadership issue,  flagged Prime Ministerial ambition of multiple leaders in the Opposition and dubbed the Kolkata rally as a “non- Rahul Gandhi rally”.

Jaitley's remarks flagging Rahul’s absence at the Opposition rally comes a month after Congress-led by Rahul Gandhi decimated the BJP in three Hindi heartland states- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh ruled by it, somewhat blunting the “Pappu” narrative built around the Congress President’s persona by the BJP supporters.

“Kolkata rally, which was basically an anti-Modi rally, became significantly a non-Rahul Gandhi rally by his conspicuous absence,” Jaitley said on Twitter and flagged three of four aspiring PMs wishing to challenge Modi-Rahul. Mayawati and K Chandrasekhar Rao were absent.

In line with the party’s decision to highlight the leadership of Narendra Modi in NDA as strong and decisive vis a vis the lack of clarity on who will lead the Opposition alliance, Jaitley, in sort of a pep talk to cadres, said the Prime Minister remains by far the most popular, decisive and dynamic leader of the present set of politicians, who “decimated all caste-based parties and dynastic political groups” in 2014.

“If a second term for Prime Minister Modi is the issue, it is advantage BJP. The election will be more presidential. Experimented, tried and failed ideas only scare voters. They convey no appeal. People want a five-year government, not a six-month one,” he said.

No Lemming Syndrome

He said India of 2019 has moved way ahead of India of 1971 and stressed “aspirational society never commits collective suicide” as it does not suffer from “Lemming Syndrome”, a phenomenon wherein a mass of people follow each others’ action just because many of their peers are doing it.

Jaitley, whose party’s top leadership has off late repeatedly been talking about the successful coalition experiment made by NDA’s first Prime Minister, the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, also chose to remind that two-thirds of those on Opposition stage in Kolkata had in the past worked with the BJP, dropping the message that they may not be averse to such an arrangement.

Arguing that the presence of the regional satraps on one platform does not work arithmetically in all states, Jaitley said that a non-Congress, non-BJP front remains a doubtful proposition while the individual strategy of each Opposition leader is “replace Modi and get on to the driver’s seat. The Congress, if it chooses, can at best be the pillion rider.”

Banking on caste

While the Opposition is backing high on caste calculus of these alliances, Jaitley raised doubts over the vote transferability in such caste coalitions and said many of these combinations end up as theoretical propositions.

At the same time Jaitley underlined that the BJP and NDA have to be prepared for a battle for 50% vote in a direct contest. BJP had got 31 % vote in last Lok Sabha polls.

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Jaitley dismisses ‘Mahagathbandhan’ as unviable

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