Rahul Gandhi may need more than a ‘hug-and-wink’ routine to counter BJP’s grand strategy for 2019

It is a little amusing to watch Rahul Gandhi, tin sword in hand, hurl himself majestically into the election battlefield like Sergius Saranoff, the Bulgarian nobleman in George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man. If the Congress president hasn’t yet read (or watched) Shaw’s play, set in the backdrop of 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian war, he should. It may cure him of his misplaced romanticism.

Entitled dynast, amateur socialist, part-time politician and full-time sensationalist Rahul Gandhi has no idea of what he is up against as he strives to place himself as Narendra Modi's chief challenger in 2019.

The BJP under Modi and Amit Shah is a well-drilled, organised and efficient unit that tries to stay several steps ahead of its rivals. During the election to Rajya Sabha deputy chairman’s post, for instance, we witnessed how the party trumped the Congress in its own game — stitching an unlikely ‘mahagathbandhan’ to help its ally JD(U) win the seat in a canter despite the NDA’s numeric disadvantage in the Upper House.

From the proceedings at the Monsoon Session and certain simultaneous developments in the last couple of weeks, it is possible to get a glimpse of BJP’s grand strategy for the 2019 general elections. Among other issues, the party is likely to stress on three verticals during its campaign — social welfare, social inclusion and a tacit Hindutva card.

By no means would these be the...

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