The 2014 election was a fight between Congress and non-Congress forces. Barring the UPA allies, almost all other parties were fuming at the mis-governance of Congress. While others could not articulate the peoples’ frustration, BJP exploited it by projecting Narendra Modi as the only alternative.

In retrospect, the Sangh and BJP used Modi’s image to channelise people’s anger to their favour notwithstanding the ground was primarily laid down by patriarch L K Advani, who believed an attack on Congress prime minister Manmohan Singh would prove more effective in defeating Congress than targeting the party. Advani projected Singh as the patron of the wrong doers, corrupt and a most inefficient ruler. It is another matter that later on the BJP could not come up with evidence to substantiate the accusations.

After his projection as the prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi carried forward the mission with more zeal and resolution. Modi consistently denigrated Manmohan Singh along with Rahul Gandhi by heaping insults and accusations against them to win over the trust of the people.

But the scenario in 2019 is going to be different. In 2014 the BJP did not face the elections as the ruling party, but in 2019 it would be returning to the people for a repeat mandate. Obviously the element of incumbency would come to play and it would be hard task for Modi to put the blame on others for his absolute failures. People have already started calling him as feku, someone who talks a lot but does nothing.

But the maximum harm to Modi has been done by the Sangh and its parivar, particularly the activists of Bajrang Dal, VHP and the godmen and sadhus. Since they came to taste the fruit of power for the first time, they went berserk and their sense of balance. They wanted to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra in a hurry. Incidents of lynching and killing of minorities and dalits were rampant and this alienated the common people. The passive attitude of Modi towards these macabre incidents forced people to act, which manifested in consecutive electoral defeats of BJP.

People finally came to realise that instead of working for ameliorating their economic and social condition, the saffron brigade was out to destroy the Indian ethics, culture and traditions. People doubted their integrity, dedication and nationalism and they developed a dislike for Modi. This is for the first time in Independent India that a large number of army personnel have been killed by Pakistani army during peace time.

The Opposition success in the recent by-elections has made the BJP leaders, including Amit Shah, jittery. It must have come as a rude shock to Shah that his magic is no longer working. Close to the defeat came the rebellion by some of the allies, who have been waiting for the opportune time to strike, after lying low as they were overwhelmed by his strong arm tactics. The animosity between the allies and the BJP could be gauged from the fact that though Shiv Sena chief Udhav Thackeray met Shah, bilateral relations were discussed after the meet and the Sena leader did not forget to ridicule the BJP leadership.

Shah’s ‘Sampark’ mission is a move to rebuild bridges with the allies. Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) has already taken to revolt. BJP will do well to realise that almost all the allies are not supportive to the idea of Hindutva. They may have kept quiet so far, but they are no longer willing to give space to the saffron elements. Incidentally Shah is promoting a new image for Modi as a moderate and liberal, who respects the sentiments of others but political compulsions do not often allow him such freedom. This is believed to be the idea behind his Sampark mission.

Modi rode to power riding on the support of the urban middle class. But unfortunately this middle class has turned his bitter critic, notwithstanding every attempt to refurbish his mage. It is this class which Shah is targeting for his mission. Shah knows that while the government and the party must fulfill the task of Sangh, it must not allow the situation to drift further. Modi’s image must not become the casualty of the contradiction between Hindutva and secularism. Shah and company cite the performance of BJP in Karnataka where BJP could improve its position primarily due to Modi.

Shah has already called on former army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag, former Lok Sabha secretary-general Subhash Kashyap, former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev besides a number of prominent celebrities as part of the party's ambitious contact programme for the 2019 parliamentary polls.

According to the party seniors, four thousand elected representatives of the BJP will contact one lakh personalities from various fields such as art and culture, retired defence personnel, religious leaders, etc. Apart from this, 50 lakh elected representatives of the BJP will knock at every house in the country. The most important feature of the drive has been to counter the secularism slogan of the Opposition.

Shah is credited with conceiving this mission, but the RSS leadership has been working on it for a long time. The RSS leaders held a four-day marathon meeting with Union ministers and senior state BJP leaders to polish the concept before formally launching it. (IPA Service)