It’s become almost certain that the BJP will win Lok Sabha elections 2019. Today the NDA is in power in 18 out of the 29 States in which thirteen have a BJP Chief Minister. Some have argued that the Indian polity has again returned to single-party dominance system, with the BJP taking the place of the Congress.
Opposition has failed so far, because it has tried to challenge the BJP on its home ground. BJP on the other hand has prospered by scripting an alternative national narrative around:
- A Hindutva-infused nationalism;
- Turning elections into a referendum on national leadership, specifically Narendra Modi’s leadership;
- Framing the elections in all-India terms rather than engage with State-level issues.
The Opposition’s counter-narrative should include:
- Conveying an idea that the 2019 polls are about choosing between, a coalition regime to protect the values of pluralism and federalism, and a majority under an authoritarian leadership.
- Framing the election as a referendum not on leadership but on democratic values
Indian democracy has never worked anyways, under powerful parliamentary majorities led by a PM unchecked by coalition dynamics. Two examples are Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
The Opposition’s success now hinges on it’s effectiveness in convincing the people that if they value their nation’s democratic traditions, they must elect a coalition government in 2019.