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BJP Juggernaut: WAKE UP CALL FOR CONG, OTHERS, By Dhurjati Mukherjee, 16 March, 2017 Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 16 March 2017

BJP Juggernaut


By Dhurjati Mukherjee


The landslide victory of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand comes as a big morale booster for the party. Further, its swift claim to form government in Goa and Manipur, even though it was not the single largest party, speaks volumes of political shrewdness. All indications clearly point to the fact that BJP is the most important political party now and will continue to be so in the coming seven-eight years.  


The obvious question being raised is the need for a strong leadership for a party to win elections and this cannot be ignored. Obviously, this has been aimed at Rahul Gandhi who has not been able to uplift the Congress morale and make a respectable presence in UP. It was expected that the party would win at least 20 per cent of the seats it contested that is, around 20-21 seats but it did not get even 10 per cent seats. However, his party’s role in Punjab – along with that of Amarinder Singh -- Manipur and Goa cannot be totally ignored.


But this is not enough to take on ensuing challenges. Though Rahul is quite sincere and honest, he lacks the magnetic personality of Modi. There is need for the party to introspect and formulate a strategic line so that in the next phase of elections it could make its presence in the next round of elections. If the party has a leadership team instead of the ‘high command’, this could bring about some change.   


The charge that the Congress has been maintaining family rule since independence has been made several times and most of the young generation are averse to this idea. A modern political party should not be run like this but there should be a decentralised set-up, both at the national level and also at the State levels. It is not known how much decentralisation exists in the Congress and even in the BJP. But the Congress has to come out of it but there has been, in recent times, some change and policy making depends on the views of a few leaders.


Other than the Congress, the BJP has diminished in UP, the Samajwadi Party, not to speak of the BSP, the latter having been completely washed out. An important factor in this massive mandate for the BJP has been the father-son confrontation, which obviously showed that the party was not united. One cannot deny the fact that Mulayam, a disciple of the late Dr Rammonohar Lohia and later of Jayaprakash Narayan, and has lot of credibility at the national level. If Akhilesh had not gone against his father openly and had reached a rapprochement, the results may not have been so bad.


The alliance with the Congress was no doubt good but giving so many seats to that party needs to be questioned as it has very little following in the State. It is generally agreed that the Gandhi scion failed to pick the right issues to take on the government. The default option of Modi bashing is seen as many insiders to have backfired given that the Prime Minister seems to enjoy an enduring appeal among all sections of voters.


Modi’s pragmatism manifest in his urge of Swachh Bharat to demonetisation and removing dirt that engulfs the country has found acceptance among the electorate. The poor has finally found a leader in him who is trying to do something in implementing their hopes and aspirations.  Political analysts think that social engineering reinvented itself in the UP victory of the BJP. This resulted in most backward castes, non Yadav OBCs and non Jatav dalits all clustering with BJP. Shedding its pro-Brahmin image, the party successfully created a wide coalition of poor and backwards.


Though experts are also talking of the anti-incumbency factor in both UP and Uttarkhand, the fact remains such a massive mandate – over two-thirds – was not even expected by the BJP itself. Thus, the main fact remains that the towering personality of Modi and even endorsement of his policy of demonetisation went well with the electorate even though it was widely criticised by most political parties and even some well-known economists.


An important fact that remains to be mentioned here is that in UP the voting has not been so much on caste and religious lines but on the development agenda. This may be a relatively new trend in Indian politics and should go well in the coming years. Thus, in this backdrop both the SP and the BSP would need too to plan how to revive their parties and not take their vote bank for granted.    


Punjab turned out to be silver lining for the Congress. The anti-incumbency factor along with poor governance led to the downfall of the Akali-BJP rule. Add to this, corruption and lack of development had come to the forefront in recent years and the BJP could not salvage the situation. It chose to be the junior partner and not go all out as it did in other States. The AAP has done relatively well keeping in view that it was its first election in the State and suffering from a leadership problem though some analysts predicted that it may come to power, which was not quite practical.  


Judging by present indications, it can be expected that the in next phase of elections in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, BJP stands on strong ground. The Modi-Shah combine with their modern methods of electioneering is sure to make a positive impact on at least the two BJP ruled States. Will Congress be able to retain hold in Karnataka is a question. However, one cannot ignore the incumbency factor but it remains to be seen whether it would have any significant impact in all three States.


The BJP now needs to shed its Hindutva stand and become acceptable to all sections of people, irrespective of caste, class and religion. The Muslims are still skeptical of the party and there is need to repose confidence in them. And this can be done by nominating more Muslims in the representative councils at the Centre and in the States. The changed stand, which analysts’ state, may be forthcoming in the not-too-distant future and this can only make it a truly national party. 


Inclusive politics is the cry of the day and as more and more people are getting educated, the new generation would analyse the performance of a party in power before voting for it. The development agenda being carried out, specially in the rural and semi urban areas, would henceforth be a key factor in the voting pattern. This, no doubt, should be considered a healthy trend in the years to come.


All said and done, the BJP has become the major force today. In fact, the coalition era in Indian politics seems to have come to an end for now and the BJP is in the process of sealing its single party dominance as the Congress once did. Obviously, the credit for this has to go mostly to Modi whose towering personality has pushed the party to this place. Thus apart from the development agenda of a party, a strong leadership and commitment along with a corruption-free and down-to-earth administration have to be the essentials of the emerging dynamics of political parties in the country. ---INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

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