Opinion: BJP Makes Its 2024 Plan Clear - Modi, Modi, Modi

The hashtag says #ModiOnceAgain. The video has Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 72, striding towards the camera; he is heard quoting famous Urdu poet Nafas Ambalvi "Usse guma hai ki meri udaan kuch kum hai, mujhe yakeen hai ki yeh aasman kuch kam hai" (rough translation: much remains to be done, our potential is limitless).

Colour me not surprised as the BJP launches its campaign for a historic third term at the centre with Modi as the background and foreground. The BJP is not mentioned, neither is any minister despite the 56-second-long advert focusing on infrastructure upgrade of highways, roads, railways and metros.

Modi in his address at the BJP's national executive this week (delegates had cell phones confiscated outside the venue) said that the party has 400 days to showcase the "historic work" of his government en route to winning another term which would catapult the BJP to historic heights. Clearly, Modi is now thinking about legacy and his place in his history alongside bête noire Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, who ruled for three terms at the centre.

For this column, I spoke to four senior leaders from the BJP to get perspective on election preps. Three had an identical line: that Modi has never lost any election he contested starting in 2001 from Gujarat which he governed for four terms.

The big battle for 2024 is going to be the most Presidential contest as far as the BJP is concerned, and the national executive officially acknowledged Modi's role as the BJP's election-winning totem.

J P Nadda, the BJP President has got his term extended till 2024 - this was reported exclusively last September by me in an NDTV column - made no bones about Modi being the match-winner. Nadda highlighted that nine elections are due before 2024 and the BJP has the political appetite to win them all. He also made it a point to indicate that with "personal attacks" on the PM, the Opposition has acknowledged that he is the key to the BJP's success.

So far we have seen various political avatars of Modi - the Hindu "Hridaya Samrat", the "development man" and this time around, the Modi iteration is reportedly going to be a "global statesman" who the world acknowledges as an effective leader (think of his remarks on "this not being an era of war" in the context of Russia-Ukraine and how they were repeated by several world leaders), A BJP minister told me, "The Opposition keeps mocking us, saying that the presidency of the G20 is a routine affair where it is held by every member in turn. What they don't understand is that we have spun it as a huge deal."

In keeping with the global statesman template, Modi also called out unnamed people (read Narottam Mishra, MP, minister) who have made "attention-seeking statements" on films (read Shah Rukh Khan's 'Pathaan') and have therefore diluted the BJP's focus on its "good work".

The BJP has reportedly commissioned an extensive survey for the upcoming Karnataka election and only three leaders including Amit Shah and JP Nadda are privy to the results. Modi had Karnataka on his mind when he had a very public chat with former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on the sidelines of the big BJP meeting in Delhi.

Yediyurappa, who has been on an extended sulk, asked him to inaugurate an airport in Shivamogga, BSY's stomping ground. An assurance has also been extended that son B Y Vijayendra will get a post if the party wins the state, something that had been agitating BSY for a while. So while Basavaraj Bommai will remain the Chief Minister, he pretty much sent out an SOS to Modi during his presentation on Karnataka preps, asking the PM to make pit stops in the state regularly.

A very well-funded BJP has the winning "hawa" and "mahaul" (PR, trends) but has to crack the formula for winning over the South, something Modi emphasised. Expect more full-page advertisements, videos, jingles and even drones added on to the BJP election arsenal. Expect full Modi saturation as he is the medium and the message for 2024.

(Swati Chaturvedi is an author and a journalist who has worked with The Indian Express, The Statesman and The Hindustan Times.)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

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