few days back when we were having a discussion on the upcoming 2019 elections, one comment really impressed me and sounded very realistic. One friend of mine said, “Right now there’s no alternative to Modi. There is no substitute for BJP. If at all there’s any party that can beat BJP in 2019, it is the BJP itself.” The journalist in me compelled me to probe further and what he said was, “If at all BJP falls short of a majority, then it’ll happen only because of the infighting and leg pulling within the BJP.”
Yesterday, one incidence occurred which was actually somehow proving his point. Suddenly, one hashtag started trending on Twitter — #AntiBJPMalviya. When we tried to go through the tweets with these hashtags, we found that most of the tweets were coming from the handles which are staunch BJP supporters. While going through the tweets, we found out that all these handles were protesting against the BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya’s one alleged action that he got more than 20 verified Twitter handles of “Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha” state units and its national office bearers unverified on Twitter by writing an official mail to the Twitter. As per the version of these Twitteratis, Devang Dave and Poonam Mahajan took the initiative to get all the Twitter handles of BJYM state units and national office bearers verified on Twitter and all got verified 3-4 days back. Later on, Amit Malviya, who’s the IT Cell head of BJP, wrote to the Twitter out of jealousy to get them unverified and all these more than 20 handles got unverified yesterday. The result was an outrage against the BJP IT Cell head amongst the karyakartas of BJYM and BJP supporters across the social media. They even alleged that the current BJP IT Cell head is an AC room activist and has no knowledge of what’s happening on the ground and that he has ruined the IT Cell in the last few years resulting in creating differences amongst the BJP online supporters and many even are going against BJP.
Now, it is to be noted that if we can recollect our memories from BJP’s 2014 campaign, there were two key factors that gave the party the edge over the Opposition and that was the outreach of PM Modi and his extensive campaign and the online supporters of BJP which outnumbered the online warriors of the Opposition. Moreover, to the fact that they all were in the sync during the campaign and stood united. The Opposition may say or as many claim that all these online supporters were paid trolls but it’s a matter of fact that most of them were the selfless supporters who were not even a part of BJP or its IT Cell. Rather, these supporters were selfless and had unconditional support to the party and the PM; they never asked for any post, status or verified accounts, they just stood by their choices and made it victorious.
Now as we are moving ahead to the 2019 elections, this seems to be missing. The first factor may remain there but the second has gone making everything null and void. There are many handles, which were very popular and campaigned day and night on Twitter and on other social media in 2014, has now gone more critical to BJP than the Opposition. Be it so-called staunch Hindu handles like Saswati Sarkar, Agniveer or its admin team, be it the close aide of one minister and firm supporter like Shilpi Tewari, they all are very critical to BJP when it’s needed — I mean to say that they are not the blind supporters. Many of them are promoting NOTA in the 2019 elections as they say that they don’t trust any Opposition party but now they have lost trust in BJP too. It means that they are the core BJP voters and the supporters who are somehow disappointed. Although they’re not going to vote for BJP, they’re not going to vote for the Opposition. And this is where BJP needs to think. We have recently seen a clear divide on #MeToo campaign too and the allegations levelled against MoS External affairs MJ Akbar — many BJP supporters felt that he should resign and expressed it online but again they were left with disappointment.
At the time when the Opposition is making its online force strong and united, attacking PM Modi day and night out unitedly, the BJP’s house doesn’t seem to be in order and united. And that’s the biggest disadvantage that the party has in 2019, as per most of the BJP supporters. Many of them are left with disappointment, many voices unheard, many promoting NOTA, or maybe a few joining other camps.
The responsibility lies in the leadership. Recently, in a seminar, while addressing the core members, the BJP President Amit Shah suggested its spokespersons that every time it is not necessary to poke your nose in each and every matter and give your opinion. It’s the duty of the media that they will run behind you asking questions on each and every issue. You need to be very cautious while speaking and especially matters pertaining to the public interest and opinion. He gave a strong message and education on why it is necessary to keep quiet and the suggestions seem to be very wise as we see every day some BJP spokespersons coming to the media/debate and speaking something that gives fuel to the Opposition and leave their cadres and online supporters fighting over it.
The BJP President also suggested them to leave their obsession with a few selected national channels and make their presence to regional channels too as of course BJP is the largest national party now having maximum states ruled by them and they need to reach all the corners of the country. But the trend seems to be otherwise. All their major spokespersons are seen on a few selected national channels to keep in the limelight and be a part of the Lutyens circuit, trying to score better than their counterparts. The IT Cell head playing the blue tick game on Twitter to make feel the presence of himself and his importance. The greed has taken this party a step back and it’ll be interesting to see if they can recover on time.
One more advantage that the Opposition has this time or the disadvantage the BJP has this time is that, in the campaigning of 2014, there was an anti-incumbency of 10 years against the UPA, where the social media was playing a crucial role exposing the UPA’s misrule by posting their videos, statements, figures on development, corruption charges — overall exposing them how they failed! Now, the situation has reversed. Today, the opposite side is posting PM’s old videos of 2013-14 on the promises he made, how many he fulfilled, where he took the U-turn, how he failed on the issues of corruption, the figures that are going against his claims. If the ruling side wants to retain its fort in 2019, then the time has come to introspect and pull up their socks before it’s too late for them.
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