India: Crucial year ahead for Brand Modi

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will face perhaps the biggest challenge of his political career in 2019 when he fights a buoyant Congress-led Opposition for another term, and shows his diplomatic skills in accommodating present alliance partners and winning new friends.
  • The 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be a referendum on Modi’s work as Prime Minister in the last five years. He launched many welfare schemes, repackaged some from the previous dispensation and his government has claimed on every occasion that these measures have reached more people than in any previous regime.
  • The Prime Minister will also have to reinvent himself as a coalition builder this year and shed his “presidential” style of functioning. Till now Modi has worked as a one-man army who keeps himself above the party.
  • Those close to him maintain that he is a good listener but takes his own decisions. His ministers have little role in decision making and mostly follow the diktat of their boss.
  • As the opposition parties join hands to take on the saffron brigade and the anti-incumbency takes effect, BJP and its present NDA partners may fall short of the majority mark. In such a scenario, BJP will have to look for new post poll allies who would demand their pound of flesh.
  • Modi and his trusted lieutenant Amit Shah do not have the reputation of taking allies along and most NDA partners have sulked in the last four and a half years. Shah has begun placating the allies and walking the extra mile to keep them in the NDA fold. Modi may have to make some effort to get new partners after the elections.
  • Modi is BJP’s biggest hope in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and the party is banking heavily on his popularity. Even in states where the BJP lost Assembly elections, many voters still said they may vote for him in the general elections. However, the invincibility of the BJP under Modi has been shattered due to these defeats.

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