Sunday, June 16, 2024

BJP is beatable, provided…

Election results announced on Thursday highlight several points. The unprecedented performance of the BJP in Gujarat was, of course, the glaring example of a party that means business. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in the victory celebrations at BJP office in Delhi on Thursday that the people of India trust only the BJP. It is not the  entire people of India but the people of Gujarat for sure trust only the BJP. It is as good as the Left Front in West Bengal in 2006 which also won a splendid victory for the seventh successive term. Where is the CPM now? It is confined to Kerala. The comparison between the BJP and CPM ends there. Unlike CPM, the BJP is a bigger party in power at the centre in the middle of the second term and defeated anti-incumbency sentiment in several States such as UP. The BJP performance this time also was Gujarat specific for several reasons. The extraordinary personal charisma of Modi along with personal supervision of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the party’s formidable network in the state right from village panchayat to State level and the level headed chief minister Bhupendra Patil were some of the contributing factors. As Modi said ‘Narendra worked hard to make Bhupendra win a stupendous victory.’ In contrast to the aggressive, single-minded, no-holds-barred campaign carried out by the BJP, the main opposition party, the Congress, took it easy. The party that almost defeated the ruling BJP five years ago was a pale shadow of itself. While energetic Prime Minister had addressed 32 full-blooded rallies after the announcement of the election schedule in Gujarat, the former president of the Congress Rahul Gandhi took a day off from his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ to address just two rallies. The listless campaign by the Congress was the main reason for its collapse from 31 seats it won in 2017 to a single digit 9 in 2022. The AAP also aided to the misery of the Congress. It cut into the Congress vote share without touching the BJP. Although the AAP’s political philosophy was akin to the BJP which is not very secular with the party’s chief Kejriwal suggesting that the pictures of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi could be printed on currency note for the sake of prosperity, it ate into the Congress vote. Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM also helped the BJP by cutting Congress vote in 13 constituencies his party contested. Moreover, the BJP appears to have received some Muslim votes. It won 12 out of the 17 Muslim dominated assembly constituencies in Gujarat. The laboratory of Hindutva as Gujarat is known was also reminded by Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the rioters (read Muslims) of the State were taught a lesson in 2002 when the communal riots took place. That completed the picture and Gujarat almost became opposition-mukt State as Modi has been saying.

Also read: People of India trust only BJP: Modi

But it is not easy to get opposition-mukt Bharat. The same BJP used the same methods and powers in Himachal Pradesh. It did not work. The Congress which did a better job in HP compared to Gujarat fought with all its might that was locally available and won although the victory was extremely narrow with a difference of less than one percent of votes. One can say the Congress is still alive and it might gather momentum thanks to the walkathon undertaken by Rahul. Even otherwise, there are strong regional parties which are sincerely fighting the BJP. For instance, the huge margin of victory scored by Dimple, Akhilesh Yadav’s wife, in claiming the seat held by her father-in-law Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose demise caused the by-election, makes it abundantly clear that Yogi’s magic is not unbeatable in UP. While the BJP won Rampur  from SP, it lost Khatauli to RLD. No great performance. In Bihar JD(U) lost one by-election to the BJP. That was mostly due to the unpopular policy of prohibition imposed by Nitish Kumar government.

Also read: AAA unseats BJP in MCD

With the AAP getting the status of a national party and the TRS becoming BRS which was recognized by the Election Commission, the opposition parties are rearing to go. But if they persist on their individual ek la chalo line it will help the BJP win third term in 2024. BJP can be checkmated only if most, if not all, the regional parties make a common cause with the Congress which even today has more than 20 percent of the national vote. Coming elections in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chchatisgarh and Rajasthan would give a better picture of the Congress’ health. Whatever may the results of the upcoming elections, no other party can unseat the Congress from the pivotal position of being the lone challenger to the BJP at the national level. Trinamool Congress and AAP have been continuing their lonely furrows while all other regional parties are likely to fall in line behind the Congress. BRS, the new form of TRS, will have to make up its mind whether to go alone or form a third alternative which is sure to help the BJP. If the TRS/BRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao is conscious of his place in history and if he is true to his declared position of opposing the BJP tooth and nail, he should turn soft towards the Congress. He may fight the Congress in Telagnana but support the grand old party in its attempts to dislodge the saffron party at the centre. The Congress, on its part, should leave the question of leadership of the alliance to the elected representative, prepare a Common Minimum Programme and should be more accommodative and absolutely practical in its approach.

Also read: Centre has a better option than quarrelling with judiciary  

The BJP’s resounding victory in Gujarat followed by enthusiastic celebrations by BJP leaders on that occasion is not going to change the status of national politics. As Sachin Pilot, the Congress observer for Himachal Pradesh, said the BJP is beatable. The Congress has to set its house in order and the regional parties should be sincere in their opposition to the BJP. The idea of maintaining equidistance from the BJP and the Congress is simply suicidal and certain to help the BJP. Kejriwal, Mamata and KCR should reassess their options.

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor


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