Sunday, May 22, 2022

Big winners and big losers in 5-State elections

Since May, 2021, after the Bengal election, the political establishment and in particular, the political opposition to Narendra  Modi, was transfixed on the 5- State elections. The States of Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Goa and Punjab were going to elections in March, 2022. Punjab was ruled by the Congress Party and other 4  States were under the BJP. After Bengal loss of the BJP, a narrative was produced that BJP and Modi had lost popularity, due to unemployment, economic problems  and bad handling of Covid and will now ensure defeat of BJP in the 4-states election.

Uttar Pradesh being the largest State, a loss for the BJP, would mean disaster. The opponents of BJP and Narendra Modi kept up the tempo. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee who won a third term in Bengal led the national campaign that Modi can be defeated in 2024 and she is the right person to lead and then become prime Minister.

Mamata started behaving like a prime minister. Mamata started touring the country. This immediately aroused other opposition leaders like Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, Arvind Kejriwal, Stalin of Tamil Nadu and even KCR  to start talking national politics and behaving as if they were prime ministerial candidates. All of them started talking how they would die for the country and how great they would make India.

The Opposition leaders said that Modi can be defeated in 2024 and BJP would surely lose in the 5-states election. These opposition leaders also hinted that they were the best candidates to defeat Modi. The Congress also brought changes in Punjab and threw out Capt. Amarinder Singh and replaced him with a Dalit leader Charanjit Channi. Many Congress leaders flattered Rahul Gandhi and how he was so shrewd that he will defeat Narendra Modi.  Who does not like flattery? Now that the results are out, there are consequences for many politicians.

  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a big winner in 4- State elections. Not only BJP won the 4- states it held, but without Narendra Modi’s popularity, the BJP might not have won them. The elections proved  Modi is popular and a big crowd-puller. The results of the 5- State elections give the BJP confidence to face other State elections coming up and the general election in May ,2024. One can imagine the chaos for Modi if BJP lost Uttar Pradesh.
  2.  BJP can win Rashtrapathi election : By winning 4-State elections, BJP can face the future. Most importantly, it will be an easy task for the BJP to win the Rashtrapathi elections in August, 2022. In fact, some opposition leaders were getting ready to contest Rashtrapathi  elections. Now they will back out.
  3. Yogi Adityanath also secured his reputation. Though the number of seats in Uttar Pradesh has come down from 320 to around 260, Yogi won the state. If Yogi had won a bigger victory, than he would have become a much bigger figure.
  4. In the other 3 states which were won by the BJP, namely Manipur, Goa and Uttarakhand, there is no outsize leader. It is the BJP and Narendra Modi’s image which ensured victory.
  5. In the Opposition, the biggest winner is Arvind  Kejriwal,who captured Punjab. Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi party is now the first regional party in Indian history to win 2 State governments. Arvind Kejriwal aspires to lead national opposition . Now, with his victory in Punjab, Kejriwal can demand leadership of the opposition.
  6. Akhielsh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh did not win the State. But Akhilesh Yadav improved his party’s strength greatly from 57 MLAs to nearly 135 MLAs. Definitely, Akhielsh Yadav gave a great fight to the BJP. So, while Akhilesh  Yadav lost, his stature has  gone up.

Losers :

  1. The biggest loser is Rahul Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi aspires to be the Opposition candidate for prime minister. Rahul Gandhi changed the chief Minister of Punjab and selected Charanjit Channi and was sure Congress would win. But Congress lost disastrously and now Congress has only 2 state governments left.  The entire blame for the congress debacle in Punjab comes to Rahul Gandhi. Not only his party lost very badly, a big rival in Arvind Kejriwal now dominates the opposition. Many senior Congress leaders are critical of Rahul Gandhi.
  2. Charanjit Channi was supposed to be a wonder-Chief Minister. Channi belongs to the Dalit  community and Rahul Gandhi was sure the 32% Dalits would vote for him. They did not and Channi lost. But for 5 months, Channi had a great time. Channi also, lost his own seat. Definitely, there is a full stop to Channi’s career now.
  • Priynaka Gandhi is also a big loser. She was in charge of Uttar Pradesh. Congress got 2% of the votes, which were the lowest ever in history.  Priyanka got a lot of attention in the media by daily attacking Narendra Modi and how sure she was Congress will do very well in Uttar Pradesh. Congress contested all the 400 MLA seats and won 2. One can expect silence from Priyanak Gandhi for a few days. She also canvassed in Punjab.  The gimmicks, the social media and the photo-ops did not work.

There is no rival to Narendra Modi in his party.  But now we have to see how opposition leaders behave. Will KCR stay back in Hyderabad? Will Mamata Banerjee not move from Kolkata?  What will the shrewd Sharad Pawar do? All of them would have been loudly predicting the future and how they will defeat Modi. But now they are quiet. Only Kejriwal is laughing and maybe he will invite them for the Punjab Chief Minister’s swearing in.

Dr. P. Pullarao
Dr. P. Pullarao, born in West Godavari, studied at Loyola College, Madras, PhD from JNU, Economic research at University of Chicago under Prof. Buckminster Fuller, famed futurologist, and Dr. Milton Friedman. Public Advocate, writer, TV Commentator and newspaper columnist based in New Delhi.

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