BJP’s ‘Abki baar 400 paar’ claim: Is there a change in strategy?


Prime Minister Narendra Modi shares a light moment with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Dharmendra Kashyap during a public meeting for the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections, at Aonla, in Bareilly on Thursday (ANI Photo)

The BJP, led by PM Narendra Modi, sharpens its attacks on the Congress manifesto and the talk of inheritance tax and reservation for Muslims. Is there a sudden rethink in the ruling party’s campaign strategy?

Our Bureau
New Delhi/Patna/Lucknow/Hyderabad

Just after the completion of the first phase of the Lok Sabha election, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav on April 19 took a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party and said that the BJP’s “400 paar” film has become a super flop on the first day itself. Tejashwi Yadav said that there is no competition in the first phase as Bihar will give shocking results this time.

“There is no competition in the first phase. We have said many times before that Bihar will give shocking results this time. They have not done anything for the people of Bihar. The promises made by Modi ji in 2014 and 2019 were not fulfilled. Now the public is tired of their statements and false promises. We have promised that we will give special package to Bihar along with special status,” Tejashwi added.

Many people might have taken Tejashwi’s comments as exaggeration in the middle of a long and hard-fought election.

But experts have also observed the shift in the focus of PM Narendra Modi’s campaign from the guarantee of a developed India and the promise of ‘Beyond 400’ (seats). BJP’s 400-paar pitch is causing anxiety among the low-caste groups, with the Opposition portraying a brute majority as a precursor to change in the Constitution as envisaged by B.R. Ambedkar and the reservation policy.

Telangana Chief Minister and Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) Chief Revanth Reddy on Thursday alleged that the BJP is conspiring to remove the SC, ST, and OBC reservations and to remove reservations they require 400 seats. At the TPCC headquarters, Gandhi Bhavan, Hyderabad Revanth said, “The only thing left for them to remove is the SC, ST, OBC reservation. They have declared a final war on the Constitution. The war is the removal of the SC, ST, and OBC reservations. To remove this, they need 400 seats. They need a 2/3 majority in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. BJP is conspiring to pass this bill and bring pressure on all states. RSS which started in 1925 has an aim to remove the reservations by the time they complete 100 years. RSS is committed to removing the reservations by 2025 as they are completing 100 years.”

He further hit out at the RSS and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and claimed that the BJP aimed to remove the Constitutional rights given by Babasaheb Ambedkar and Congress to SC, ST, and OBC.

He further said, “Many RSS leaders have spoken about the removal of reservations in many instances. Many BJP MPs have also spoken about the removal of reservations in many instances. So today, PM Modi behaves blatantly to get 400 seats with the slogan ‘Ab ki baar, 400 paar’ and to remove the Constitutional rights given by Babasaheb Ambedkar and Congress to SC, ST, OBC. I request the SC, ST, and OBC, you have got crores of jobs by the reservation that the Congress has given you. Today, the BJP is going to remove it. BJP has decided to use your vote to remove the reservations.”

Now, a minister in the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh assured this journalist that the basic structure of the Constitution would not be touched. “The Opposition is spreading fear. The amendments will be within the framework of the Constitution as has always been the case,” he said.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, party leader Rajesh Lilothia, social activist and author Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd and others during the ‘Samajik Nyay Sammelan’, at Jawahar Bhawan in New Delhi on Wednesday (ANI)

The BJP is facing a challenge in UP. During the pre-poll campaign, it was clear that despite the BJP carrying out multiple rallies in every western UP constituency, the ground reality showed a lack of fervor. There was an average of 6.29% drop in turnout in the eight constituencies, when compared to 2019 when the BJP won two of the eight seats.

Now, Narendra Modi, who is the main campaigner of BJP, is targeting the Congress party on other fronts. Hitting out at the grand old party, PM Modi accused the Congress of “looting” the country. “Today another hidden agenda of Congress has come out. Today Congress has said that it will levy inheritance tax. The property that you have saved by working hard and facing hardships, Congress will loot it from you after they form the government. Congress has become so disconnected from the social values of India and the sentiments of the Indian society that they have no idea of family values,” the Prime Minister said at a public rally.

Modi also hit out at the remarks made by Congress’ Sam Pitroda about an ‘inheritance tax’ like law saying that the Congress does not want the countrymen to pass on their property to their children. “The advisor to the royal family’s prince has said that more taxes should be imposed on the middle class. Now these people have gone one step further than this, Congress says that it will impose an Inheritance Tax, and it will also impose tax on the inheritance received from parents. The property you have accumulated through your hard work will not be given to your children,” the Prime Minister said.

“When the Congress manifesto came out, I said on the same day that the Congress manifesto had the stamp of the Muslim League on it. When the Constitution was being made, it was decided under the leadership of Babasaheb Ambedkar that there would be no reservation on the basis of religion in India. But for vote bank, Congress did not care about the words of these great men, did not care about the sanctity of the Constitution nor did it care about the words of Babasaheb Ambedkar,” the Prime Minister said.

“Years ago, Congress had tried to give reservation on the basis of religion in Andhra Pradesh. Then Congress planned to implement it all over the country. Congress said that reservation should be given to some people based on religion by stealing some part of the SC/ST and OBC quota,” he added.

Earlier, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Thursday that BJP will end reservation for Muslims in Telangana and provide the benefit to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. “BJP has decided that they will end reservation for Muslims done by Congress and TRS in Telangana and make reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs,” Amit Shah said at a public meeting here.

Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy said last month that the Congress government in the state would protect the four per cent reservation for Muslims in education and employment.

BJP’s slogan of 400-paar has other difficulties too as seen by independent groups.

The Bernstein Societe General Group’s latest India Strategy report delves into the intricacies of the political landscape, analyzing various factors that could influence market sentiments and economic policies in the coming years.

A pre-election euphoria is now building up, with expectations of continuity in power further strengthened by the possibility of the ruling party coalition winning over 400 seats. The report suggests that the optimistic scenario, where the incumbent government secures a landslide victory, has become the new base case.

With projections ranging from 330 to 400 seats for the ruling coalition, there seems to be a consensus among opinion polls that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) could secure a substantial majority.

Some polls even go as far as predicting a staggering 411 seats for the NDA.

However, amidst the electoral fervor, the report highlights several challenges that could impede the government’s ambitious targets. Various states across the country are grappling with socio-political unrest, including agitation from different communities in Gujarat and Rajasthan, farmer protests in Punjab and Haryana, and political upheaval in Delhi.

Moreover, the report points out that in the 2019 elections, the NDA secured an overwhelming majority in key states, leaving little room for further gains.

With almost 99 per cent of seats captured in eight crucial states, including Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Bihar, the road to expanding this stronghold to reach the coveted “Plan 400” target may prove to be more challenging than anticipated.

The report questions where the additional 50 seats, required to surpass the previous election’s tally, will come from. While the southern belt, particularly Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Odisha, presents an opportunity for growth, the report emphasizes that securing gains in these regions will not be a cakewalk.  

That could be another reason for the BJP adopting a different strategy in the middle of elections.

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