New Delhi: When you are in a fix, often the fix is in you.
If there is ever a perfect example of an entity that is an enigma wrapped in a dilemma, surrounded by a conundrum, then that entity is called Indian National Congress Party.
When the Congress won Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the party seemed to have found its winning ways to challenge BJP.
Opinion polls were predicting a near rout for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and impressive gains for the Congress in the three states it had won.
Enthused by the sudden change of fortunes, Congress felt achche din aane wale hain..
Alas, the feel appeared to be a flash in the pan, given the prevailing situation.
In a changed scenario,the BJP is bracing up for the 2019 elections with a huge advantage.
For the BJP's comfort, it needs to credit the Congress.
The reasons for BJP to gain a comfortable head start to face the elections is the " Don't know what narrative to adapt" dilemma by the Congress.
Despite the perceived drop in credibility graph of Modi, the Congress still behaving like a deer caught in the headlights.
On the other hand , post-Pulwama, the BJP meticulously began to dictate the electoral terms by building an entirely new discourse from its much hyped " Sab ka Saath -Sab ka Vikaas" to " Desh Suraskshith haathon mein"( The nation is in safe hands) based on nationalism and aggressive counter Pakistan policy, both to divert the attention from its failures at all fronts and to successfully paint Congress and its allies as anti-nationals.
Now that the country is talking about these issues, the Congress doesn’t know how to counter the new narrative being built by BJP meticulously.
In five years, it hasn’t given voters a single convincing reason on why the people should vote for it.
Its entire campaign has been built on the claim of the prime minister being a failure.
But, the post- Pulwama strategies of BJP to exploit and politicize the situation to its electoral advantage has effectively smoke screened the Congress' efforts to paint Modi as a big failure.
With the election schedule announced, it doesn’t have anything to add to the narrative of nationalism that would dominate elections, except its Rafael offence, which also appears to have lost in the explosion of Balkot Air strikes.
Given how public perceptions about Modi had been fast changing with electoral defeats in the Hindi heartland, a revelation a day over the Rafale controversy, a north-east burning over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, and allies falling out one after the other, clearly Modi’s image was fast disintegrating into nothingness by February this year.
Suddenly, everything changed with the Pulwama attack.
The failure to counter BJP's efforts to politicize sacrifices of the soldiers and Air strikes is a manifestation that the Congress has lost the narrative.
The Congress failed to expose on how the Modi led BJP government sought to move Kashmir into a space where there is no scope for politics, and effectively reduced the Valley to a theatre of violence that polarized the rest of India.
This is because Congress couldn’t decide whether to neigh in support or bray in scepticism against the Post-Pulwama actions against Pakistan by Modi.
While the Modi government failed to take moral responsibility after the Pulwama attack, Rahul and the opposition, by failing to harp on it, has allowed the government to get off the hook.
Even its Rafael offensive is taken advantage of the BJP painting it as an effort of the Congress to harm the national security concerns to serve the enemy’s interests.
Rahul and the opposition could have asked several pertinent questions about the entire India-Pakistan stand off without compromising India’s position as Modi's government has not at all been transparent on the Balakot air strike and its aftermath.
The narrative is loud and clear. Modi is India and whoever opposes him, is opposing the Indian Army and is India’s enemy.
Whether Modi wins the Lok Sabha elections on this narrative depends on how the Congress builds counter response to it.
The war mongering will not have its impact on the South and Northeast of the country, but will have a huge effect on the Hindi heartland and Western India.
If the Congress can expose politicization of warmongering of Modi and powerfully put facts before the voter while bringing back focus on important issues such as the agrarian crisis and unemployment, it would succeed in stopping Modi’s juggernaut.
But, with no new narrative in place there is no way Congress can win the elections unless Modi is rejected Outrightly by the voter, a scenario which appears an illussion.
At the moment in a direct fight between the two parties, the Congress appears to be a clear loser.
The BJP identified the developments post-Pulwama as one thematic area where the opposition appears to flounder.
Post Pulwama, the anti-BJP formulations are finding themselves at odds with the nationalist narrative being spun by PM Modi.
Not only has the spotlight turned on the aerial strikes, the Opposition pre-election campaign itself has lost some of its momentum, thanks to perennial Dilemma of the main opposition party.