– Vidya Bhushan Rawat
My understanding of the current election results.
The poll results of the Haryana and Maharashtra Assembly as well as by-polls in about 52 constituencies across the country are out and wronged the pollsters as well as the arrogant ‘spokespersons’ on the Manustream media who were out and out ‘determined’ to ‘decimate’ the opposition. In any democracy, if we wish to strengthen it, people must ensure that a healthy opposition remains in the Parliament and Assemblies to make the government accountable. In the absence of opposition, media would have done the job as it is doing so powerfully in the United States as well as other Western world but unlike them, the casteist Manustream media has become one of the ‘specialised’ branches of the Sangh Parivar whose job is to spread ‘fake-news’ and have debate based on it, distort facts and deny people their right to correct information.
I have always mentioned that no party, whatever, its strength are, can win elections on the basis of the propagandist media because, it is running the show on the guidelines of RSS ideologues and therefore has no time to send to reporters to the ground to get a feel. In fact, reporters who go to the ground, is not as a journalist whose job should be to remain impartial and probing particularly to the deeds of the ruling party, our media probe the ‘misdeeds’ of the opposition and if any one challenge them or ask accountability from them, they ‘lynch’ them during their ‘prime time’ ‘puppet show’. Most of them were doing more than what can be afforded at ‘national channels’. They had pre-election surveys and spent lots of time in their studios to abuse the opposition, to divide them, confuse them. Every one of them had given verdict to finish the opposition. ‘Gandhis are done’. ‘Opposition wiped out’. Not satisfied with the surveys, there was a ‘surgical strike’ too to ensure India-Pakistan binary remained in the news and big ‘experts’ continue to do their ‘nationalistic’ work on TV. They won’t wait for the dead line of the Election Commission and would do everything to influence the voters. As the election time was over, all of them started again with their ‘exit’ polls with their puppets speaking what they wish to deny people even right to ‘peace’. All of ‘exit’ ‘experts’ gave BJP and Shiv Sena virtually two third majority in Maharashtra and huge win in Haryana. Based on their ‘exit’ findings they had already ‘broadcasted’ ‘End of Gandhi era’ and beginning of Modi 3.0. We don’t know who suggest these headlines but all these Sangh Parivar influenced or blessed party workers masquerading as journalists are a disgrace in the name of journalism. One channel goes berserk as its Exit Poll has got the correct results. Now, our opinion is that all these polls should be banned. Either organize them three month before the polls or before the ‘ Model Code of Conduct’ and for the Exit Polls, there is no need as we can always wait for the main results. We do you need an Exit poll when the results are about to come but then you have huge Satta market based on speculations and these Exit Polls are meant for that.
The current results have many takeaways. The attempt to divert people’s attention from the issues facing them and putting them all the time in ‘ national’ perspective will not be useful. If our political leaders are mature enough they can easily deflate the ‘national narrative’. BJP wanted to sale Article 370, Surgical Strike all the time to both Haryana and Maharashtra but it did not work. Both states have a huge number of farmers too and their issues were never addressed by the Prime Minister, Home Minister and local leaders. BJP leaders have become arrogant to shout down the others. A completely inefficient leader like Manohar Lal Khattar continue to be chief minister of Haryana where the Jat discontent with BJP’s attempt to isolate them was growing. There was nothing for the chief minister to show as his ‘achievements’ except for abusing and accusing the opposition and talking about ‘how great India was”. Narendra Modi while campaigning in Haryana ‘assured’ that he would not allow the Satluj water to flow in Pakistan despite the known fact that legally India cannot do this as per the guidelines of the International River laws.
In Maharashtra, the BJP was over confidence of Devendra Fadnavis who too was harping on national issues. Prime minister spoke about 370 and ‘challenged’ the opposition to oppose it. During the elections, as usual, the BJP sent Enforcement Directorate and IT officials to Sharad Pawar, who at this moment is the tallest leader from Maharashtra. The attempt was to humiliate Pawar and compel his supporters to desert him. A large number of NCP and Congress leaders were made to resign from their parties and joined the BJP but the ‘Operation- ED’ fell flat on the face of the BJP leaders and Sharad Pawar, as a matured politicians used it without speaking anything. Maharashtra leaders of all the political parties felt an attack on Pawar was an attack on the ‘identity’ of Maharashtra, particularly to that of Marathas who constitute about 30% of the population.
BJP as a party is never known to speak about the issues of the poor. It has nothing to explain to people about policies and governance. Its major focus is to influence the NRIs and caste Hindus and the sloganeering it engage in is about ‘greatness’ of India and a ‘powerful’, Ram Mandir, Article 370, India-Pakistan, Hindu Muslamaan. During the elections these issues were deliberately raised as Haryana has a large number of retired as well as serving army personnel and hence it attracted. It is not that the issue did not appeal but cant be the sole issue. Both Maharashtra and Haryana results have one thing in common and that is the anger of the dominant communities in these two state. Marathas and Jaats have been with BJP and perhaps ignored the local issues but this time perhaps they realized that the BJP while trying to get their support was also backstabbing them. Since its inception, Jaats have been the main political force in Haryana but BJP has ‘successfully’ put a Punjabi Khatri as chief minister of the state who is unacceptable to them. Most of Khattar’s ministers lost election showing how the people have given them a resounding slap very much similar to what happened to the arrogant ministers of the Devendra Fadnavis government yet they would not like to change Khattar who is RSS pointman in Haryana. It is not that Indira Gandhi did not wanted strong leaders, it looks Amit Shah and Modi don’t want strong regional leaders to emerge in their party.
Congress was not really in the fray in both the state. It look party had already lost. In the political arithmetic in Haryana, Congress had already lost the jaat support as it was not seen as standing with Hooda, the tallest Jaat leader of the state. Rahul Gandhi’s card of bringing a Dalit as the leader of the party in Haryana actually went against the party. This also shows the caste realities of our country and how social reforms can’t happen in the realm of politics. The Jaats who were already disturb losing their power, would not side with a party where they don’t have the leadership role. Second, Ashok Tanwar was no match to Hooda’s outreach and the result is party failed. The late decision to give Hooda, charge of Haryana along with Sailja paved the return of the jaat voters to the party but it may not be permanent unless a Jaat is at the helm of the affairs of the party. Jaats have no love relations with Congress but they never had a liking for the Sangh Parivar except the specific efforts of the Sangh Parivar to woe them in 2014 onwards that they swayed in the nationalistic narratives of the BJP as a huge number of them are in the armed forces. The fact is that BJP has cleverly reduced the Jaat political representation in Western Uttar Pradesh which were its dominant areas. Also the BJP strategies are cleverly planned as it had two-three big jaat groups in Haryana, it did not want to put its weight on them entirely. Dushyant Chautala and their other family members ensured that Jaat voters don’t reach Congress alone and remain fragmented much to the benefit of the BJP.
In Maharashtra, NCP-Congress put a great show and the credit goes to Sharad Pawar who tirelessly campaigned. The two parties which are being blamed for playing spoilsports for Congress-NCP in Maharashtra are VBA of Prakash Ambedkar and AIMIM of Asadduin Owaisi. VBA and AIMIM had jointly fought the Lok Sabha election and secured one Lok Sabha seat. This time, both broke and while VBA could not get a single seat, AIMIM got two seats in Maharashtra and one in Bihar. The fact is that Muslims are feeling deeply betrayed from the secular party and AIMIM and its leader are looking decisive and well prepared to raise their issue. Asaduddin Owaisi, has been raising the economic issues, and that of the Dalits and farmers. Both the parties are being blamed for giving 30 odd seats to BJP as the vote got by these parties was more than the margin of defeat but the question is why should these parties be blamed. Is not it a fact that both got substantial chunk of vote during Lok Sabha polls and even then both Congress and NCP did not seem to be bother too much about them. We know in politics, politicians have become hard bargainers and in that the smaller parties are proving to be craftier then the bigger one as they can switch over easily. Both VBA and AIMIM were ready to talk to Congress but not really ready with NCP which is predominantly an upper caste party. Both NCP and Congress failed miserably in Maharashtra because they did not take VBA and AIMIM seriously. It is well understood that many time politicians in their attempt to blackmail and bargain actually go beyond rhetoric. Most of them judge their political strength beyond normal and hence a possible alliance is impossible with Machiavellian politicians.
India is definitely in the coalition age and all members will have to judge themselves honestly to come for an alliance. Democracy in this country is not really for the sake of democracy but representation of communities and leaders. BJP has woven a better community alliance everywhere which is making it successful. Powerful communities are looking for their share in power, they are craving for bigger positions. Marathas and Jats felt left out in the political structure have switched alligience because they found powerful leaders at the helm of top positions in party. Congress will have to develop stronger regional leaders added with strong sense of social justice and minority representation as in the absence of all of this, they will never gain trust of various communities. The defeat of NDA in Bihar reflect that all is not good for Nitish Kumar and RJD and other opposition parties will make it difficult for him in the coming Assembly polls. In Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav has proved that he is the better bet to counter Yogi Adityanath. He needs to build the Samajwadi Party and get rid of the middlemen who don’t have any ideological strength of the party. As far as BSP is concern, the lesser said about it the better. Rather than introspecting on her politics, Ms Mayawati continue to blame others for her defeat. Kerala is out of reach of NDA at the moment so is Tamilnadu.
These results have several messages for all.
That media will be used to divert attention and steal the mandate. All the opposition leaders should boycott media and may be file a petition in the Supreme Court for a comprehensive guideline on media ethics. Pre poll surveys should only be allowed prior to election notifications and exit polls should be completely banned.
Modi and Shah will continue to harp on ‘nationalistic’ ‘narratives’ with the help of media. It is not true that their ‘efforts’ have failed. It is true that they have won despite no factual pro people works visible prove that people are still fancied by these narratives including 370 though it wont work fully if there is a good counter narratives on the massive economic failures of the government. The opposition needs to counter them with local narrative and expose the lies being spread in the name of abrogation of 370 and Kashmir.
The bigger parties need to develop better strategic alliances and honor the smaller parties. Attempt to discredit them will only push them towards the Hindutva. Just blaming political parties not in alliance with them as B team of BJP will not work.
The B team argument can easily work on Congress Party too as it has failed to prove ideologically that it is different than BJP. How is it going to take the minorities and the marginalized along with it. The non-acceptability of a Dalit president by the dominant Jats in Haryana reflects the ideological crisis of the Congress party. The elections show that BJP is not invincible yet it is also time to be alert all the time particularly the issue of EVMs is not going to die that soon.
And end of the day, political parties must clear their position on social, economic, cultural, foreign affairs issues and need their effective propaganda machinery. It cant just respond to the issues but also clarify various issues. For parties like Congress, it is not merely to condemn the government but also introspect their own follies in the past. Unless Congress accept that it did make mistakes and its stand on various issues remained ambiguous, it wont be able to win the confidence of minorities and the marginalized. It needs to talk to various social groups and also allow the other parties to flourish. One thing is for sure that India cannot be prisoner of a few political parties and we will have to admit that such a huge country like us, communities and groups will always attempt to get fair representation and when bigger national parties fail to provide them fair representations, they will find their own way and there is nothing wrong. It is for the parties to develop long term alliances and not merely on the eve of elections. If we are able to do that, it will help in long term. Is it possible for Congress and other political parties to build state wise alliances for the 2024 elections and raise people’s issues both in and outside the Parliament and assemblies? I am sure, the result can be beyond the imaginations of the pollsters. The people in this country have from time to time taught arrogant rulers big lessons and one should not be surprise watching these results that the most arrogant politicians got humiliated in the worst form. It is time for all to remain on the ground, raise people’s issues, stop attempting to speculate results and build alliances. If each sector work according to the norms and ethics, democracy would get strengthened which is not merely elections but as a culture which build modern India based on constitutional ethics and norms.