Watch Nidhi Razdan: Indian opposition must learn lessons from past to win elections 2024 Video Credit: Gulf News

When will they learn? Ever since Mani Shankar Aiyar’s “chaiwalla” jibe at Narendra Modi back in 2014, personal attacks by the opposition against the Prime Minister have consistently backfired. The “chaiwalla” comment was a turning point, as it represented an out of touch, elite Congress party which was taking a dig at a man from far more humble beginnings. It represented everything that symbolised an entitled political class.

Fast forward to the 2019 general election, when Rahul Gandhi made alleged corruption in the Rafale jet deal a key issue on which to attack Mr Modi and the BJP. He coined the phrase “Chowkidaar chor hai” in a direct attack on the Prime Minister. It flopped, badly. That is why it is hard to understand why opposition leaders lead by the RJD’s Lalu Yadav used a joint rally this week to attack Mr. Modi personally yet again, this time over his family.

Stung by the BJP’s repeated targeting of the opposition over dynasty politics, Lalu said “What can we do if Narendra Modi does not have a family of his own?” He keeps bragging about the Ram temple. He is not even a true Hindu. In Hindu tradition, a son must shave his head and beard after the death of his parents. Modi did not do so when his mother died”. The comments immediately galvanised the BJP, which takes no time to play the victim. The party launched a “Modi ka parivar” (Modi’s family) campaign, with top leaders adding this tagline to their bios on the social media platform ‘X’.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

Double standards

The Prime Minister himself responded at a rally, saying “my life is an open book, 140 crore people of the country are my family.” It’s not that there aren’t issues on which to target the Prime Minister and his government, After ten years in power, there is plenty to talk about especially on jobs and unequal growth.

But instead of focusing on that, opposition leaders are using personal attacks against Modi as a tactic. It won’t work. If the opposition wants to counter the BJP on dynasty there are two simple arguments they need to make. One, that even dynasts are at the mercy of the voters and have often been voted out for not performing.

Rahul Gandhi’s loss from his family stronghold of Amethi in 2019 is a case in point. Therefore, it is for voters to decide. Secondly, dynasty is only an issue for the BJP when the dynasts are from the opposition. They have no problem with the large number of families in their own party including Congress leaders who defected from the BJP who come from political families like a Scindia or Jitin Prasada.

More by Nidhi Razdan

Plans for job creation

Yes Narendra Modi is a popular mass leader, but there are plenty of issues to target him on.

For young people, getting good quality jobs is probably the biggest issue today. India’s economy may be growing better than the economy of many other countries but the fact is the growth is also unequal, with the rich getting richer and the poor and the middle class not exactly prospering in the same way.

So by all means target the Modi government on this but also give voters another narrative, another vision for the country.

Modi bashing alone is not going to win the opposition elections. They need to tell people how they will create the jobs they seek.

The Congress has just announced its plans for creating jobs if voted to power. One promise is to fill 30 lakh vacancies in government jobs at the centre as well as a new apprenticeship law that will train every Diploma or Degree holder below the age of 25 in the government or private sector.

All apprentices will be given assistance of Rs1 lakh i.e. ₹ 8,500 per month in a year. This is a huge announcement and exactly what the Congress needs to focus on in its public meetings as well. They should keep the focus squarely on this rather than attacking Modi all the time.