The article by Keshava Guha discusses the dynamics of Indian politics and the potential strategies for the Opposition to win in the upcoming 2024 elections. Drawing a parallel with American politics, the author highlights the importance of framing the elections as either a referendum on the incumbent’s performance or a choice between contenders.
The author identifies that successful Indian elections with incumbent losses have typically followed the “referendum-not-choice” pattern. However, in 2014, the BJP, led by Narendra Modi, managed to change the narrative and present the election as a choice, focusing on personalities rather than ideologies. The Opposition’s challenge now is to redefine the narrative for 2024.
The BJP’s political peak in 2019, marked by ideological victories and electoral gains, seems to have slowed down. At the same time, the Congress has shown signs of resurgence and improved popularity. However, to ensure success in 2024, the Congress needs to avoid a presidential-style contest and focus on livelihood issues instead of cultural or security matters.
The article emphasizes the need for the Opposition to address existing grievances rather than attempting to alter perceptions during a short campaign. By doing so, they can potentially create a “normal” pre-2014 style election, focusing on state-level contexts and regional variations rather than a single national trend.
Overall, the Opposition’s path to victory in 2024 lies in avoiding a presidentialization of the campaign, concentrating on livelihood concerns, and leveraging state-level variations to challenge the BJP’s dominance. While this strategy has challenges, the article suggests that the Opposition now has a better chance than previously thought of succeeding in the upcoming elections.
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