The Narendra Modi government and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have drawn up a detailed strategy to shape public opinion on the spiralling petrol and diesel prices, with top ministers again ruling out any cut on Wednesday.
“At times, if you take a knee-jerk reaction to sort out one issue, it may end up harming the economy more,” Union minister Piyush Goyal said at a briefing.
A senior BJP leader also said the party will try and “educate” the people on the subject, and revealed how an internal survey of the party has predicted that it was on course to improve its 2014 Lok Sabha tally in the elections next year on the back of its social welfare schemes and the PM’s leadership.
According to the internal survey, the leader said, the BJP would win over 300 seats and nearly 51 per cent vote in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, while the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance would win 350 seats. No party has ever won over 50 per cent vote share. The Congress party had come close to the mark in the 1984 elections. In 2014, the BJP won 282 seats with 31 per cent vote share, while the NDA won 336 seats.
Party sources said they were alert over a negative public perception building around fuel prices, but insisted that public approval ratings of Prime Minister Modi remain high. They said the party has trained over 100,000 workers in the last one year. They are now fanning out across the country to take the message of the Modi government’s achievements and policies. The training of party workers was conducted by general secretary P Muralidhar Rao and his team.
The team will attempt to “educate” the people how inflation has remained low during Modi government’s tenure, while it had hit double digits during the Congress-led UPA. “This has meant prices of basic commodities of daily use have either not increased significantly or remained stable. Similarly, tax reforms means more money in the hands of the middle class,” the leader said.
On the subject, Goyal said a decision taken to solve a specific issue may do more harm than good. He added that the overall inflation rate was 4.17 per cent last month while it was more than 10 per cent during the UPA regime.
Goyal said the Modi government is working with a holistic view of the economy and is confident that people will support and respect the decisions taken in national interest. A party leader said that there was much appreciation among the people of the government's social welfare schemes, ensuring electricity to all villages, housing scheme and Mudra Yojana, and people were willing to face the temporary pain of high fuel prices.
The BJP asked its leaders to be careful with their public utterances, and will also be putting in place a new team of younger spokespersons to present the party’s point of view in public debates and on television.