Finally, the mammoth festival of democracy has ended. It has brought about a number of beginnings and an equal number of endings. Tall, broad, victorious, Narendra Modi, is now well saddled to take India forward, in the next five years. To me, it appears, Narendra Bhai & Amit Bhai se BJP hai, BJP se woh nahi hain. Jahan woh khade ho jate hain BJP ki line wahin se shuru hoti hai. One can use any amount of adjectives … Tornado, Tsunami or any other to describe the Namo wave that was totally unexpected, or kept under wraps, about which the general public is not aware.
What astonishes me now is the tectonic shift that the election brought forth through its sensitive and knowledgeable voters. It in fact unsettled all calculations. There was a great hue and cry that Modi is now only a matter of months and days a perception largely created by the novice opposition and even the media, including print, electronic and social in utter munificence. Many prominent journalists, TV channels and Youtube operators now stand exposed, when it comes to their own personal integrity, professional acumen, and even their prowess as political journalist. Where, the pollsters by and large got it right.
The media is abuzz with a plethora of thoughts and pointers, where, I would also like to join the bandwagon, in making my own thoughts known, even if, it is, a bit too late in the day. The great thing that has happened in this election is that Mother India has got the workhorse, in terms of a reliable, knowledgeable, and a resourceful ruling party with a majority to take India forward. But in the process it has inadvertently smothered the opposition. Opposition now looks pale and withered. And without an opposition, democracy looks incomplete. But then where did the opposition go astray. I have some viewpoints as a voter when it comes to Congress and other opposition parties.
One, Congress party, which is the main opposition party, is perceived to be a pro Muslim party by a majority of voters. Ever since independence it has ruled with a soft corner for the Muslims. This was fine had it been for a sprint run. But Congress turned out to be a pro-Muslim party for a marathon run. This perhaps gave an uneasy feeling to the Hindu voters. As long as, there was no option, Hindu voters kept voting for Congress. But when a reliable option like BJP surfaced they shifted. The same analysis holds good for Samajwadi Party and other opposition parties. Congress did not rest with this.
After independence like the British Raj it further divided and exploited the Hindu community through its policies into schedule caste, schedule tribe, and the upper caste just to corner votes. Since 60s Congress has allowed Bangladeshi immigrants into Assam, and now even Mamata Didi is doing the same. And, Hindus, wonder, why was Congress so comfortable with Muslims even when they happened to be illegal immigrants? The answer is very obvious—vote bank. Where, they exploited the language nationalism of Bengalis.
Two, opposition says, polarization was done largely by the BJP. But voters have come to realise a more comprehensive and covert polarization was done in the long years when Congress ruled, when they gave incentives to Muslims, divided the Hindu community into upper-caste, backward-caste, schedule-caste, and schedule tribe. All for vote bank politics. Congress exploited the divide that existed between Hindus and Muslims that originated at the time of partition. The opposition even during the campaign kept exploiting this by telling the Muslim minority that if BJP comes to power they will be finished. This was totally wrong. Especially, when, even in the long years of Congress and opposition rule the plight of Muslims has not improved.
Three, opposition criticises the ideology of Hindutva. They say Hindutva is the poison, churned out by RSS, Jansang and now BJP. But the moot point is, if all was going so very well under the Congress regime why at all, did Hindutva, flourish in the last two decades or so. Perhaps, at the time of partition, a divide, or a suspicion did exist between Hindus and Muslims, which the Congress never tried to address in a comprehensive manner.
Four, if Hindutva was cherished and nourished by BJP and if Hindutva was a cuss word for the opposition, why and how did BJP reach a full house from 2 seats in the parliament. Most opposition leaders have mocked at the grace of Hinduism by attacking Hindutva which they thought was some form of Hindu uprising, and that perhaps has hit the sentiments of most Hindus. A similar analogy can be made about Samajwadi Party. The perception of this party too is a Muslim-Yadav combine. Most police stations of U.P. are packed with Yadavs. So then what is left for the other castes in the state? One could say it is silent polarisation.
Five, there was never an issue based criticism of BJP by the opposition during the election campaign. Anything and everything that BJP did was wrong including national security. Does a country work like this? Rahul Gandhi whose UPA was drenched in corruption was openly sloganeering, ‘Chowkidar chor hai.’ Which the voters of India didn’t accept. Then you have Mayawati and Mulayam Singh with cases of disproportionate assets, so with what face were they attacking BJP. It was like the pot calling the kettle black. The opposition needs to realise that they are now dealing with educated voters where their silly ways will not cut ice anymore.
Six, a majority of the opposition parties are family shops, biggest being Congress. Where, everything happens at the diktats of the political-lala. Just as people look for corporate and government jobs and don’t like working for a lala company in the same manner the learned voter especially the young voters want a grand political party now, to rule India and not a bunch of local and parochial leaders. Where, BJP fits the bill.
Seven, BJP won because it worked on the ground. It had the grip and pulse of the voters including better booth management. Where, opposition was totally divided by their petty vision. The only thing that united them was ‘Modi hatao.’ Congress offered rupees 72,000 per annum to the poor but still it did not find any traction and that speaks a lot about Congress. Mamata, was full time into minority appeasement, and fierce federalism, yet BJP made healthy inroads in Bengal.
BJPs performance was somewhere below and somewhere above the benchmark, yet they played their cards pretty well. With an average literacy rate of 74% in India political parties cannot bull shit anymore. Social media has made casting of vote a fad, a prestigious duty. In times to come you will have more of educated voters and less of vote banks.
What may have worked for NDA is that it succeeded to a large extent in turning this election into a referendum in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Where, opposition parties appear to have helped BJP in the process as their campaigns were primarily about ousting Modi, rather than offering any positive and alternate visions of what they will do if elected to power. It’s a smart phone world where opposition needs to play it better.
The opposition was fragmented all along and offered no PM candidate, this only cemented the concept of TINA (There is no alternative) factor, in favour of Narendra Modi.
Just as, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rephrased, the slogan, ‘Sabka sath, sabka vikas’ to ‘Sabka sath sabka vikas and sab ka vishwas’ even the opposition needs the vishwas of the majority community.
Therefore, the opposition needs to get back to the drawing board to reinvent their respective parties that has an agenda for all communities and not just their own brethren and caste. There is a saying in English, that goes as follows, ‘Words on the street is that elections are already over, only the polling is left.’ If the opposition is vigilant to these words they will get the pulse of their victory much in advance.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES
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