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Logically, Rahul Gandhi, the president of the Indian National Congress and scion a leading political family of India, should have emerged as Modi’s dangerously leading rival.
He hasn’t. It just doesn’t work that way in “the largest democracy in the world.
As the elections approach, opinion polls, showed Gandhi trailing far behind. In 2019, for a variety of reasons, Narendra Modi appeared to be “the only personality … who straddles the national consciousness”
He still is.
“BJModi and the BJP worked for years to build an image that Rahul is not only elite, he is also inaccessible,” while Modi worked hard to build an image of accessibilityP worked for years to build an image that Rahul is not only elite, he is also inaccessible,” while Modi worked hard to build an image of accessibility.
Beginning with the radio, Modi gave public speeches and showed his image on billboards, all the while pointing to his being a “tea seller” from a “backward community”. For many Indians, he was home: the classic rags-to-riches story.
The BJP capitalized and Modi stormed through to the governmental citidal.
In 2018, Rahul reinvented himself. He suddenly “seemed accessible, energetic and… aggressive”. Hopes of an option surfaced.
A new media interface group was created. More importantly, a number of international economists, including Gita Gopinath, the chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, stands up for Rahul.
But this does not seem to have brought him closer to dislodging Modi.
Instead, the car bomb terrorist attack killing 40 Indian policemen in February has solidified his position on the national security agenda.
Modi’s mantra in 2014 was once paradigm change. He held back from that. Gandhi promises no such thing in 2019 to leave mattersin the air.
“The lunatic fringe…” is now and it is likely to remain untouched even should India’s massive 172 million Muslims gather on one platform to support Rahul.
This, as Asia Times points out, is the “dark side of democracy”.