Modi’s Lucknow Rally: Higher The Stakes, Larger The Crowd
Reportedly the presence of about 10 lakh people at Parivartan Maha Rally organized at Ramabai Ambedkar ground, Lucknow today is being viewed as a massive psychological boost for BJP in run up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. In the words of PM Modi, who addressed this huge rush of people, it signified the clear tilt of public perception in the coming polls, and to put it more clearly, a ratification of his demonetization decision.
I say ‘his’ demonetization because post 2014 General Election, BJP is Modi and Modi is BJP. So it would be right to analyse and assess the Lucknow rally on January 2 as Modi’s personal effort to reinforce his image of a competent decision-maker that took a beating with series of daily flip-flops in the execution of demonetisation. With the expiry of 50-day deadline on December 30 that was fixed by PM Modi to get himself publicly judged, he badly needed something of this scale to show he had taken the decision in the right direction with an express aim to root out black money, corruption, counterfeit currency and terrorism. The Opposition has since been baying for his blood.
For this he needed crowds, their stamp of approval to convey countrywide message that people were with him despite having endured the pains of standing in queues silently so far across the country. It had also become a necessity because the Opposition had all along been trying to portray this scenario as the colossal policy failure of Modi more than the BJP led NDA Government. The much needed effective counter to divert public attention from the Opposition demand of his ‘accountability’ after 50-day deadline could not have been possible without putting up a show of strength as witnessed in Lucknow on Monday.
But is this stamp of approval as flaunted by Modi himself can be interpreted as genuine? Whether all those who made it to the rally really felt like coming on their own free will to support Modi? Whether the vast multitude in Lucknow symbolized the masses having become mature in their understanding of the dynamics of economics within 50 days of the demonetisation? If so, does it mean that by and large its negative assessment by the learned economists is motivated or to be precise anti-Modi!
While one may get busy in mental churning to reach own conclusions as answers to these questions, the convergence of people in so huge numbers at a single venue cannot be taken something as a kind of occasion of spontaneous outpouring of their ‘genuine’ validation of Modi’s demonetization. There is much more to be seen. Such occasions are managed, they do not happen. And that is the political rather electoral aspect which must be accounted for especially in a poll-bound state.
For one thing, it has been settled now that demonetization must not be seen purely in economic terms. It could be an economic decision but was taken with a political motive. Mobilising record number of people at the Lucknow rally and the political rhetoric belted out by PM Modi proves this. Bringing about 10 lakh people in 15,000 buses and 35,000 other vehicles is really a herculean task which only Modi’s managers are capable of achieving that too with unusually restricted currency circulation, much to the envy of his political rivals.
In all fairness, the organizational capability and management skill of Modi’s managers is unmatched. It can be presumed that huge public events are far easier to organise when the party they are working for is in power. So in the prevailing situation when other political parties are perceived to be financially famished, the financial resources invested in organising this rally cannot escape public scrutiny. Political opponents are set to hammer this but this must surely be accounted for if Modi wants himself to be seen securely perched on the high moral ground.
The disturbing fallout of the demonetisation is that it has shaken the public faith in the system. One hears people wondering what would be coming next. Social media was abuzz with jokes on the eve of Modi’s address to nation. The question arises whether it is so easy to believe that the crowd turned up voluntarily and that it was not brought to the rally's venue.
It is common knowledge how crowds are mobilized for such events, of course of varying scales, more easily by the ruling parties. Common belief is: higher the stakes, larger the crowd. So all the focus seemed to be on creating a new buzz. And in doing so, Modi tried to convey that the adverse fallout of the demonetisation had in no way dented his credibility and popularity.Experience has shown crowds do not often come 'voluntarily' in specially arranged vehicles. BSP supremo Mayawati too had organized such wall-to-wall crowd in Lucknow at the same venue in the past.
Raju William is the Associate Editor, babushahi.com.
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