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How the opposition can strike a balance between positive and negative campaigning

9 18 0

For many years now, even before Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, non-Hindutva parties have struggled to find the right way to attack Modi. Should there be an all-out attack on him, or should he be completely ignored? Should he be attacked for Hindutva or for his claims on development? Or both?

The more you attack Modi, it is often said, the stronger he becomes. But then, he keeps getting stronger anyway.

Demonising Modi all the time is wrong, says Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. The criticism should be issue-wise, and not person-wise, agrees Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

This comes days after several Congress leaders openly disagreed with their party’s opposition to the Modi government’s move to dismantle the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

In a span of three years, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has gone from calling Modi a “coward and a psychopath” to agreeing with him on everything now. Kejriwal has faith that Modi will deal with the economic crisis, he says, sounding like a BJP CM. There has to be a sweet spot between the extremes.

Also read: Tears and laughter — what the opposition needs to beat Modi

Here are some principles to show a way out of the confusion.

1. Positive campaign is the best campaign. What people want from any politician — whether they are in government or in opposition — is that they must solve people’s problems. People want politicians to ensure that trains run on time and flights land safely; inflation is in control and jobs are in plenty in the market; that the pot-holes are repaired and law and order is maintained. A politician must therefore persuade voters that s/he is the best person to solve their problems, deliver governance and prosperity. A politician has to show that s/he knows how it’s done, has a long-term vision for it, and her/his vision is the best.

Modi’s 2014 campaign was all about promises, showing people that he had a vision for development and asking them to believe that Modi could do it because he did it in Gujarat. Modi’s 2019 campaign told people that he was the guardian of the nation — the chowkidar. Arvind Kejriwal won a massive victory in Delhi in 2015 because he showed people that he had a vision for Delhi, where electricity and water would be affordable for all, and people must........

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