Will Rafale Controversy Hurt BJP in 2019 Elections?
Political parties have gone into a high-octane campaign mode with only few months left for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Congress’s campaign on Rafale deal, which has been joined by many from the Opposition parties, has emerged as a key issue. But does this resonate with the voters?
Rafale Controversy: More of a Perception Game?
After the Supreme Court gave it’s nod to the Rafale deal, the controversy survives more on unanswered questions by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) than legal evidence.
Speaking to BloombergQuint, Arti Jerath, senior editor, The Times of India, said that just like Bofors scam, Rafale controversy too has become more of a pre-election perception game and just like there was nothing proved in the former, it stuck with Rajiv Gandhi.
Is It an Election Issue Yet?
When asked if the controversy is big enough to become an election issue, Sanjay Kumar, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and Co-Director, Lokniti, said that the efforts by the Congress party have succeeded, but it’s a very limited success.
According to him, although more and more people are getting aware of the deal and that there is something wrong with it, but it is not enough to hurt BJP’s 2019 electoral prospects.
R Jagannathan, editorial director, Swarajya, said issues like Rafale controversy matter more in an “elite” conversation in Delhi, but it will be issues like farming that will turn the elections. He also pointed out the Congress, itself, is facing the National Herald case currently.
Who Has the Edge?
Whereas the Congress party is continuously posing questions on the deal, the BJP’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday, 4 January tried answering few in Parliament.
With the non stop question-answer trail, maintaining edge right before elections is important for both the key parties and according to Arti Jerath, Rahul is leading right now.
She also said that the government’s failure to provide any answer on actual pricing places it on a back foot.
“So far Rahul Gandhi has made sharper points to sell to the public at large. BJP's arguments don't find resonance because it is difficult to explain all these things,” said R Jagannathan.