For long, we have lamented Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s apparent policy to dump his core constituencies: nationalists and the economic right wing. It is not that those who mourned the death of the BJP as a party with a difference were so stupid that they could not appreciate the fact that the RSS swayamsevaks and the urban middle class together did not constitute a percentage of voters sizeable enough to make the BJP win elections. Our editorials have said repeatedly that if the people of the country are by and large socialists, Modi could have appealed to his party’s 11 crore members to spread the right economic education among villagers, farmers, Dalits and the urban poor. But the challenge at hand is now more existential than economic. Due to the party’s decision to stick to the coalition government with the PDP in Jammu & Kashmir, it now finds itself badly cornered. Neither the patriots nor the members of the polity its supporters had branded as ‘anti-national’ earlier in the tenure of this government are on its side after the incidents of Kathua and Unnao. The resignation of two BJP ministers from the Mehbooba Mufti government is being seen as an instance of meek capitulation. On Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the party dithered for three days, wasting crucial, political time.

A video has been doing the rounds of social media where a man in a ‘selfie mode’ claims that the girl in Harinagar of Kathua was not raped in the first place and that the temple, touted as the scene of the crime, has no basement and no doors to hide an act such as rape. This is besides the press conference held by the Bar Association of Jammu, about which the media couldn’t care less, where the lawyers kept pleading that they were not on the side of the real culprits. Even in this day and age of technology, nothing beats the mainstream media when it comes to spreading either the truth or doing a propaganda exercise. It, therefore, beats reason why the BJP leaders in Jammu believe that the eight arrested have nothing to do with the alleged rape of a child, and both the Uttar Pradesh government and MP Meenakshi Lekhi hold that Sengar was not named in the original FIR; yet, the prime minister concedes through his speech virtually that his party was wrong. If indeed the party is wrong, the rank and file should have been asked to behave much earlier. If the party is right, the PM should have addressed the nation via television with the message that an unknown entity has been circulating among the people via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. And he should have tweeted what Lekhi did for the case from Uttar Pradesh.

The difficult question that arises here is whether Modi is incapable of standing for the truth or incapable of standing for nationalism. If it is neither, is the party not under his control anymore? Whatever the answer might be, the prime minister has failed in one department for sure: communication. Either he couldn’t communicate the message of respect for law to the cadre or he is not able to communicate to the citizens the innocence of his cadre. This incapability is as debilitating as the inhibition that held him from educating the people that a free market was a better tool for uplifting the poor than socialism. Owing to the utter confusion in the government about messaging, the party ruling at the Centre and 22 States has suffered a terrible loss of goodwill. A BBC or a New York Times writing against a BJP government is too clichéd to merit our concern. But now, even the UN Secretary-General has indicated that this government is callous towards the protection of women.

At this critical juncture, the voters the BJP had tried to woo with entitlements such as loan waivers and caste gestures are not standing by Modi; instead, they are organising Kisan Long March and Bharat Bandh. If still, Modi does not get the message that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush, when will he? He should not have chased the chimera of fence-sitting voters by abandoning the dedicated ones. Instead, he should have asserted that the ideology he had been trained in was right to turn the fence-sitters into his core voters, too. With millions of ideologically converted voters in place of opportunistically converted ones, today the whole nation would have told Bollywood and the United Nations to shut the hell up.