Message from Hindi Heartland is loud and clear
Jumlas Don’t Work and Cows Don’t Vote!
Nearly four years after storming to power in a seemingly unipolar election and handing congress party its biggest defeat, India’s ruling political force, the BJP, has tasted its first major setback after losing elections in three central states of the country including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan the erstwhile strong bastion of the party. You need not to be a political commentator to conclude that although anti incumbency was a factor at least in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the defeat was more of a result of BJP’s policies both at state and central levels and its failure in managing the affairs it was voted for.
Instead of listing out its achievements (if any) and promising to address the issues people are facing, most leaders of the BJP used the campaign solely for bashing at congress and its leaders both alive and dead. Putting every blame of today’s problems on present congress leadership and calling every wrong done in the past an act of Nehru has been BJPs two escape routes that did not work this time. BJP remembered Lord Ram and played Hindu card as they always do before any election.
Yogi Adityanath, the saffron clad monk, who loves to hate Muslims, making it felt beyond any doubt, made anything that has a Muslim connotation into an election slogan- from changing names of places to trying to dig out the roots of Hinduism from beneath the centuries old mosques and heritage sites. However the star campaigner must be aghast over his communal policies as most of his moves backfired and proved to weaken the Hindu brigade. In Telangana instead of promising a new developmental model for newly created state, Yogi Adityanath pledged to rename Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar and make Owasi flee like Nizam (pre partition ruler of Hyderabad who after partition contributed his enormous wealth to the union of India) incase BJP manages to win Telangana. These polarizing promises not only ended BJP’s hopes in Telangana but also ensured that the party stays away from power in MP, CG and Rajasthan where Yogi was seen making a hateful and derogatory comparisons between ‘Ali and Bajrangbali’.
The middleclass voter seems to be disgruntled with the BJP and why not. At a time of farmer distress, low jobs for the youth and economy nose diving into a catastrophic low, the government looks more interested in building statues and a competition has risen between its leaders for such a nasty trend that in no way does any good to the masses. With most of the BJP’s poll promises unfulfilled, the voter is refusing to digest any more “Jumlas” (hindi word for false promises). BJP’S open hand to murderous vigilantes, who kill poor people, mostly Muslims at will under the garb of cow protection has also caused damage to its reputation, particularly in Rajasthan where highest number of such incidents took place.
Mismanagement of economy, assault on institutions including the RBI have also added to the downfall of BJP. Modi magic looks to have waned away and Modi-Shah duo which looked invincible a year ago is suddenly weak and atleast not difficult to overpower. Congress party, on the other hand, looks better prepared and seems to have done their home work in a much better way. Rahul Gandhi, who was made into an object of ridicule by the BJP spokespersons and the entire range of politicians, looks to have attained a fair bit of political maturity, as he managed the election campaign without making any personal attack on his opponents. Even when Mr. Modi referred to Sonia Gandhi as a widow of congress, a reference that even congress haters did find distasteful, Rahul Gandhi kept his cool not making it an emotional issue and rather internalized it to work harder in the states which went to polls.
Considering the present political landscape of India, BJP still continues to be the strongest party but with the defeat in the semi final i.e. state elections, the competition for 2019 general has became wide open and more interestingly, the balloon of Modi Wave has been punctured quite precisely and at an accurate time.
(Author is a Ph.D. Scholar and can be reached at email@example.com)