It is easy to say that Modi wave had died out or became ineffective in state elections. It is also easy to say Rahul Gandhi has finally come out of age and started delivering results. It is even easier to say, as Rajnath Singh said that state elections do not reflect the performance of central government. I wonder whether he would say the same, as I don’t remember any BJP leader saying this when BJP was winning one state after another.
The first declared result I noticed today was of Akbaruddin Owaisi, and it was a sort of indicator of today’s results, especially for BJP. Despite the exit polls, even the Congress Chief of Chattisgarh did not expect this sort of win for Congress in Chattisgarh. BJP considered a victory in Chattisgarh, tough fight in MP and loss in Rajasthan. Considering the result, BJP’s self-assessment was wrong only in case of Chattisgarh as they lost a well-contested battle in MP and got defeated decisively in Rajasthan. And, these elections mark a rare instance when most exit polls were correct. Unless BJP tries to repeat its Karnataka experiment, Congress will be forming next government in three states, as they too have learned their lessons from Goa episode.
Except in Telangana where Chandrasekhar Rao scripted every scene of elections and Congress losing in Mizoram as expected, Hindi heartland states have retained a bit of suspense in the run-up to elections and results. One can interpret results in any manner he pleases. Let me do the way I wish.
Take Chattisgarh, where the CM is one of the gentlemen in politics. And, like all good gentlemen, he finally lost the plot. BJP gave tickets to many MLAs including those who lost in 2013! Most of them are from the Bastar region, and it seems they repeated their performance. Somehow BJP could not convince people that Salva Judum was the best way to handle Naxals. No doubt the terrain of Bastar is a bit more difficult than that of Andhra or Telangana or even Odisha, but Salva Judum should have been a program of shorter duration. The longer the program continued, the adverse effects of the campaign were more visible. After all, hundreds of forest dwellers (I don’t like the words tribals/Adivasis, as they are demeaning) died. Yes, some or most of them were Naxal sympathizers. But, government actions should be targeted and effective. Even UPA government extended support to Raman Singh after Chidambaram became Home Minister. There is a political price one pays for such actions, especially when the actions were left inconclusive. So, Bastar was out of BJP’s reach.
What BJP missed was the Ajit Jogi’s factor. As long as he was in Congress, though he was one amongst many (he ceased to be the numero uno long ago) leaders, BJP warns voters that he will become CM if Congress comes to power. This threat could only work if he is in Congress. BJP’s election managers forgot the fact that Jogi left Congress long ago. Intelligent Jogi joined hands with Mayawati and was hoping to play the role of kingmaker in case of a hung assembly. Thank God, he was denied a chance to play his petty personal politics again.
Should someone give credit to Rahul Gandhi for these wins? No. As Rahul Gandhi was always credited for the BJP wins, this time the credit for Congress wins should go to the BJP Election Managers.
As BJP rode to power at the Centre in 2014 on the plank of development, how much developed are these states that are ruled by BJP for long? It took less than three years for Chandrababu Naidu to show what development is to the people of the state of Andhra Pradesh in mid-nineties. Before his first regime, AP (the united one) was only a shade better than BIMARU states. The speed at which he executed his vision was the reason why AP became a developed state in a short time. Given the long duration, BJP ruled both MP and CG (even Rajasthan was ruled by BJP earlier), the development that happened in these states is not up to the expectations. There is a lot of development if one considers where these states were in 1998. But, given the pace of development, especially in MP and Rajasthan, it is very much less than how it is supposed to be. Even Chattisgarh, despite being better than the other two states and blessed with minerals falls short of expectations.
What affected Shivraj Singh this time should have and could have happened long ago, but did not; only because of infighting in Congress. It appears finally Congress realized infighting was affecting them just and tried to conceal their differences, at least in public. Now, as they are set to form the government, they can fight it out in the open. Shivraj Singh Chouhan fought very hard, but he should have worked hard. More than a decade-old lingering investigation into Vyapam Scam that resembles an Agatha Christie plot where people die at regular intervals doesn’t help a party that claims they oppose Corruption.
The efficient containment of retail price inflation is a matter of concern for farmers, especially when there are no changes in the way agricultural markets function. The central leadership of BJP failed to realize this. The crucial reform for all agriculture oriented states is to change the way the market functions and free it of ‘brokers’ and establish storage and processing facilities for rice, wheat, pulses and vegetables/fruits. As most of the brokers are aligned with one or the other political party, breaking their hold on the markets is not possible for both BJP and Congress. The best alternative is to let these brokers establish storage and processing facilities so farmers can at least live – they live so these brokers can prosper. Even this is not being considered by any political party as even the parties in opposition too demand only a loan waiver, which serves no purpose.
Most of the small farmers don’t get loans from Banks; so they go to private lenders, and for them, loan waiver has no meaning. The banks easily threaten small farmers who got loans from the banks, so they take private loans to repay bank loans. By the time government announces loan waiver, it is only the rich big farmer who has availed a loan from a bank that he may not need in the first place will get his loan waived.
Every political leader knows of this but does little to change the system. After all, if the poor farmer commits suicide, it is easier to buy his land from the widow/children, so the rich farmer gets richer.
On the political front, about 30 rebels from BJP played spoilsport. Now as the party was in the habit of denying tickets to sitting MLAs and ministers, how could winnable candidates were overlooked while many ministers who lost now were given tickets is a point to ponder upon. That is if BJP is serious in introspection. For a party that had converted electioneering into election engineering, these aspects leave much fodder to chew upon till next elections.
Rajasthan was considered a gone case by BJP even a year ago. Rani Raje played her royal cards so well she stalled Amit Shah’s attempts to re-engineer the political manifestations of the state. She played the same cards that Captain Amarinder Singh played against Rahul Gandhi when Captain forced Congress hi-command out of state elections. But, to his credit the Captain delivered and Vasundhara Raje could not. What Raje missed here was Congress was fighting Punjab as an opposition party against the SAD-BJP alliance wherein SAD was facing many drug-related accusations. On the other hand, the clout of Rani was fading even within the Rajput community. Despite being poorly treated, Modi and Shah tried their level best and Modi had to resort to his now forgotten personal accusations against Sonia Gandhi. Still, he failed to recreate the magic against the stockpiled negativity against Raje’s government.
If BJP who won 2014 on development flank was humiliated in the North and Central, down South, the humiliation was reserved only for the original man of development, Chandrababu Naidu. Naidu, arguably the best administrator but poor politician, has only himself to blame for his current situation. Joining hands with Congress, the bete-noire of TDP was perhaps the ultimate disgrace for the party that borne out of Anti-Congressism and trounced the mighty Indira Gandhi led Congress, within nine months after inception. From being a party that represented Opposition to the ruling party with the most brutal majority under Rajiv Gandhi to becoming a party that played second fiddle to Rahul Gandhi led Congress in Telangana, perhaps this downfall has no equivalent in Indian politics. The emotional way of settling scores with his family members forced him to make the granddaughter of NTR, Suhasini, the scapegoat in this elections. Had she expressed to become an MLA, TRS would have made her an MLA without contesting. That was the respect her grandfather still commands in Kukatpally, the constituency where she contested and lost. By defeating the granddaughter of NTR in a constituency that was supposed to have many settlers from Coastal Andhra, KCR proved a point and let both Congress and BJP understand his importance in the post-poll scenario.
And, as expected Congress lost in Mizoram. Current CM lost both seats from where he contested. That is the synopsis. Now the ball is in the court of Governor, Madhya Pradesh. Will Amit Shah directs him or not? We may know soon. The real question is will there be Cellphones made in Pushkar, Rajnandgaon, and Singrauli? Only Rahul Gandhi can tell.
Next: The Role of Central Government or Central Leadership of BJP in losing these state elections; and that of BJP’s social warriors.
Further, Read More: