TRIPURAINFO

State Election Results: BJP downing BJP

Dr VK Bahuguna

The recent assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram must have sent a shocker down the spine of BJP leadership as they have never expected this kind of drubbing. The results have also done a lot for the rejuvenation of the congress and all opposition leaders are now rallying behind the leadership of Congress President Rahul Gandhi. The BJP, however, has not been routed completely as it still retained a fair share of votes in spite of anti-incumbency against the three BJP ruled states. But for sure, the oft-repeated slogan of "India minus Congress" was blown away like a hot balloon.  With these results the opposition is going for the jugular now and smelling power for the 2019 Parliamentary elections notwithstanding the fact that Prime Minister Modi's popularity had remained intact. 

The results of these elections have proved that Indian electorate does not bother for performance or rhetorical slogans and knows how to ground the juggernauts. This election results has thrown a few lessons for the ruling parties now as well as opposition parties. Let us examine the matter from the point of view of BJP as well as opposition point of view. This writer as an informed citizen has been observing the working of government functioning in different fields in different states and writing on issues germane to people, hailing the good decisions and providing suggestions for improvements on several issues. 

The governance of India is not a cake walk for any ruler nor is the feeling the pulse of Indian peoples mind in elections an easy task as they always have been time and again pooh-poohing expert psychologists with disdain. Any hasty policy decisions on well intentioned goals and programmes have always backfired on the ruling regimes and people have a poor memory both for good deeds as well as bad deeds as they tend to forget the good deeds fast enough and forgive quickly on bad experiences. Because of this the Indian polity has became a sort of circus now for quite some time and short term perceptions rules the mind of people and those who exploit it are victorious. 

Taking a particular group or section of people for guaranteed is a wishful thinking now. The ruling NDA had lot of positives to offer to the country after it came to power both internally (in several fields) as well on external affairs as India's prestige and position grew to a new height and esteem in the world. The Prime Minister Modi's demonetization had yielded a few positives long overdue like busting the black marketers in real estate, ghost business houses and others areas and this writer vividly remembers the poor people happily standing in long quos before the banks as they believed it is going to kill the black money and causing difficulty to corrupt rich. There has been a sustained increase in the number of Income Tax Returns (ITRs) filed in the last four financial years. As compared to 3.79 crore ITRs filed in FY 2013-14, the number of ITRs filed during FY 2017-18 (6.84 crore) has increased by 80.5%. The number of e-filings increased to 6.75 crore during the last fiscal. During 2017-18 the Gross collections before refunds rose 13% to Rs 11.44 lakh crore. The quantum jump in tax base is to a large extent was the result of demonetization. The government machinery however, could not counter the allegations against it.  

But the biggest voter loss for the BJP was the Business community (the traditional BJP supporters for long) due to initial hiccups in the implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST). The introduction of GST was a revolutionary attempts but those who implemented it will never agree that they have note read the book of peoples mind on this as the promises before the reform of same GST for same VAT was never implemented when GST rates were fixed and when the government later on tried to mollify the mistakes it was too late. The lack of handling about the agitation of upper caste against reservations in promotion in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan had really made the difference for BJP as they voted under NOTA. In MP NOTA votes were exercised by 542295 constituting about 1.4 % of the total votes; In Rajasthan NOTA votes were to the tune of 467781 constituting about 1.3 % of the total votes polled. Most of people who exercised NOTA were anti- reservation protagonists and the previous BJP supporters. The BJP got 41% votes in MP compared to Congress of 40.9% and the 1.4 % NOTA must have taken the BJP tally to well past 120 seats. Similarly, as against the congress getting 39.3% of votes against BJP's 38.8% the NOTA vote would have crossed BJO to 40% and could have scrapped through. In Chhattisgarh the Congress really trounced the BJP by a margin of 10%. 

Yet another cause of congress win is the way the party got the support of farmers who were feeling several constrains notwithstanding the fact that Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan during his rule increased the irrigated land from 7.5 lakh to 36 lakh hectares during last 10 years but the programme disconnect between production, marketing and income of farmer (including lopsided implementation of Bhawanter scheme) contributed to farmers anger. Though the Central government had taken lot of steps for farmer’s welfare but it has either not been marketed or farmer’s income is still not commensurate above the production cost. In Rajasthan the State had done very good work on water harvesting but the programmes did not catch the imaginations of the farmers in both these states and outreach by the bureaucracy was not visible on the ground. 

The yet another cause of BJP's defeat is the mobilization of opposition parties and BJP's lack of containment of negative vibes in politics. The "Sampark for Samadhan was a damp squib" as those who were contacted were mainly urbanites and genuine opinion makers attempts for material were ignored. For example though Mr Chandra Babu Naidu's own political situation is not so good in Andhra Pradesh but his alienation did fuel a movement against the BJP. Similarly, the party has alienated several of its opinions makers who during the last 15 years were creating opinion in favour of the party. This writer knows one senior Journalist and many more supporters who relentlessly attempted to take BJP to a high pedestal as an acceptable national party with Pan Indian appeal among the intelligentsias were either ignored or sidelined. 

ongress and other opposition is to adopt a charter which should be nationalistic and with a positive vision for future India away from confront polity as BJP is still a favourite for 2019. The Congress has to modernise its functioning and embrace a collective leadership, keep Delhi crowed of bureaucrats at a distance and engage with experts to serve the nation. Indian People are fed up with poor governance and unnecessary logjams in Parliament.  

Now the lesson for the Congress and other opposition is to adopt a charter which should be nationalistic and with a positive vision for future India away from confront polity as BJP is still a favourite for 2019. The Congress has to modernise its functioning and embrace a collective leadership, keep Delhi crowed of bureaucrats at a distance and engage with experts to serve the nation. Indian People are fed up with poor governance and unnecessary logjams in Parliament. To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers and squabbling political leaders. The mandate of people is supreme and a lesson for all politicians particularly in view of coming Lok Sabha election in early 2019.  



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