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Analysing the recent consecration of the Ramlalla idol and its impact on overall Indian culture and political realm, Dr Jagdeesh Chandra reveals in detail how after the January 22 development, opposition political parties have become inconsequential for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Dr Chandra also stresses that Modi’s visit to Southern Indian temples will result in a tourism boom and that the BJP candidates would not have to do much campaigning this time around, rather will have to just chant ‘Ram-naam’ and all their troubles will be over! Excerpts... (Part II)

  • Do you think after PM Narendra Modi’s whirlwind visit to various Temples of Southern India, now a boom in spiritual and religious tourism in these Temples will also start?
    Dr Jagdeesh Chandra: Absolutely. This could be cited from the tourism tornado created by PM’s visit to Lakshadweep. He has virtually become the ‘Brand Ambassador’ for the Temples of Southern India. Till today, no CM or PM went to these Temples and now Narendra Modi has visited there. Owing to Modi’s popularity, the tourism departments of respective states would want PM’s photo in banners etc. because of his value and craze among people. So, I believe that the Temples Modi has visited, will witness a huge boom in people visiting them over next few months and you won’t find hotels to stay much like what is happening in Ayodhya.
  • Will BJP contest the 2024 elections on its age-old election issue of Hindutva? Also, will BJP cross the 400-seat mark now that the Ram Mandir has been constructed?
    The atmosphere is such that winning the 2024 elections is certain. The personality that is Modi has become so grand that 2024 polls and 2029 polls have become small before him. Today, a huge part of the nation is asking Modi, what they can do for him apart from giving him votes. Thus, whether it is 400 or 415 or anything else, you can’t point to it. Also, I believe that as of today, BJP does not have to think about anything about winning. Furthermore, those who would contest the elections, will not have to spend money for campaigning, have any manifesto, or do anything else. What they will have to do is hold prayer meetings for Ram and carry Modi’s speeches to the people which is all they would need to sail through the polls. That being said, there will not be any guarantee to become a part of the Cabinet and in fact, about 70% of faces could be new this time around. Now imagine, if this is the ground situation, then what are 400 seats; it can cross 400 also.
  • What is the controversy about the first phase of Lok Sabha polls taking place on April 16?
    The information was correct. An Election Officer in Delhi wrote a letter for office circulation that there are indications by the ECI that the elections may be held in Delhi on April 16. This letter somehow got leaked and the media carried it. But what are its implications? If we take this information at face value that elections would be held in Delhi on the said date, then we will have to consider that the polls in Delhi is conducted in the sixth phase, which means that one month before that date, the polling would have commenced i.e. the five phases would have been carried out. This means that elections would be called early this time around and the ‘Model Code of Conduct’ would come into force in February itself. This can happen easily. However, that being said, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are not in a hurry and everything is happening at the right pace. But since such information has come out, then, maybe, by February mid or end, a ‘Code of Conduct’ may come into force and the first phase of polls may fall in the first week of March.
  • Winning seats comfortably in the South has always been a challenge for political parties. Do you think this time around ‘Brand Modi’ will have any effect in the Southern states?
    ‘Brand Modi’ is a hit product and has further been accentuated by Ram Mandir and the visits to Southern Temples. I don’t agree with the narrative that there is a difference in the approach of the people of North India and South India. For Narendra Modi, people’s faith is the same throughout the nation. We all have seen how he took part in prayers and rituals in Southern Temples and at Ram Temple in Ayodhya. There are 131 odd seats across all Southern states of which, BJP has 29, but I believe that when the polls would take place, the BJP will win about 50 percent of these seats. So, you can be sure that ‘Brand Modi’ is a super hit at this moment in time and the depth of his popularity in Southern states, in terms of votes, will be measured through the victories in these seats. My analysis is that Modi can sweep Southern states as well and it won’t come as a surprise to me.
  • A huge number of people believe that if Modi gets more than 400 seats, he may bring about an amendment in the Constitution and instead of a Parliamentary democracy, Modi can usher in a Presidential form of government. What is your take on it?
    I do not see any wrong in this, if this happens. Even if it is a Presidential system, it will still be a democracy, where everyone would have a right to contest elections. If Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati or Mamata Banerjee want to contest the elections, then they can stand for the Presidential election, and if you think you can, then try and beat Modi. There is no shortfall in the Presidential system. Take, for example, the governance and government in America which is functioning properly since the command is in the hands of a single person. And in the BJP, Modi is the person who is running everything, by and large. What happens in a ‘single command’ is that the person, who has complete trust is delegated tasks, works are accomplished quickly under this system, there are fewer formalities, and it is always resultoriented. Hence, people do say that such a thing could happen, but if the government decides to change its mode of governance, then I don’t see anything wrong with this decision as it will decrease the time taken to get things moving and will be result-oriented as well.
  • If we analyse the past few days and the celebrations that followed post-January 22, there is a perception of sorts amidst the general public as if Lord Ram has returned. How did this come to pass?
    This is Narendra Modi’s charisma. After that, to some extent, this is Yogi Adityanath’s persona, because the way he organised the entire event right from ‘lighting of diyas’ to various other programmes that were held, created an atmosphere. This, coupled with the branding of Narendra Modi and how PMO handled the publicity of this major development, which I would say is the apt handling of such a moment, resulted in a major achievement of this event becoming a brand in itself and an atmosphere was created among the people that Ram was returning to Ayodhya. Moreover, looking at the idol, people are believing that they are seeing ‘Ram’ in reality. This is proved by the lakhs of visitors that queued in Ayodhya to have a darshan of Ramlalla the very next day!
  • Who would you give the credit for the grand consecration ceremony held in Ayodhya?
    If we talk about leadership then it is PM Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath. Leadership firstly of Narendra Modi since his monitoring is extremely strong not just in PMO, but in the UP government as well. UP CM Yogi Adityanath should also be credited, the Chief Secretary of UP, DGP, senior police officers, Principal Secretary to CM and other senior officials of the state. So, there is a team and the media has played a major role in all the arrangements. So, the UP government gets full marks for the programme, the PMO team that was co-ordinating, also gets the full marks.
  • Among all the faces involved in Temple construction and Ram idol consecration was the face of Nripendra Mishra. What is your take on him?
    He is a ‘silent performer.’ He has been the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and the PM wanted that a trusted and an efficient person should be present on the ground, who is competent and could handle the coordination on the ground. So, he was sent to Ayodhya and he performed the task with flying colours. Rs 3,500 crore in donations were raised and although such a huge amount comes due to ‘Brand Modi,’ still one has to manage everything. Also, the first phase of the developments has been completed by him in a timebound manner. The second phase of Temple construction will be completed by December this year and the remaining miscellaneous works will be completed by 2025. Nripendra Mishra carried out his role properly and did not come into the limelight. He worked as a ‘silent performer’ and everybody appreciated his efforts.
  • The international media, setting aside its earlier stands, gave immense coverage to Ram Temple and Narendra Modi. How do you see this change?
    You can not ignore reality for a long time. Your bias can not overrule the ground realities. Hence, everyone appreciated, since it is a major development of global proportions. American broadcasters NBC and ABC carried news on Ram Temple, Russia Today and Gulf Times carried the news about it and so did many other media outlets of repute. Some did mention the mosque being demolished, but that happens when you write a story certain elements do add upto things. But by and large, they appreciated this development and PM Narendra Modi too.

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