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Countdown for 2019 begins

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Mayank Kumar
Independent Columnist and researcher in Delhi University.

When Jayprakash Narayan said “Bihar has capacity to change the course of Indian politics and show the way”, he was right. The unprecedented rise of Narendra Damodardas Modi from being an RSS Pracharak to practically the most powerful office in the country has put the whole political fraternity at toes. That election changed the whole political permutations and combinations of coalition era which dominated the Indian politics since 1989 and what Grenville Austin described as “control of regional shatraps in Lutyens”. But the battle of Bihar changed the dynamic of everything.

After 2014, BJP or Mr. Modi, as argued by many intellectuals, won the  state elections one after another like Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, etc and the loss in Delhi was described as a loss of Municipal Corporation type election. The opposition was not finding a way to defeat Mr. Modi. With the “Bihar experiment” the opposition broke the iron gate of “Modi persona” that he can be defeated, as united opposition is superior in vote share as compared to BJP, and Indian parliamentary system is the game of vote share numbers. With two years to go for the 2019 elections, Uttar Pradesh battle will legitimate or certify the “Bihar Experiment”. Congress realizes that they can’t compete with Modi electorally single-handedly. They need to form an alliances state-wise as they did in 2004, to stop the Modi Juggernaut like they stopped Shining India of Vajpayee. In this strategy, they have no problem in playing the role of a junior partner in the battleground or swing states of UP and Bihar with established regional parties.

With 12-15 percent votes in these states, Congress knows that to attain power the only option is coalition. In Bihar, Congress fought on 41 seats (out of 243) won 27 (66% strike rate) in 2015, while in 2010 they won 4 (out of 243). The case of UP will be the same. Congress leadership realized that power and organisation are two sides of the same coin. Organisation will remain intact with power in hand. The situation of regional parties are the same. These parties of North India dominated the political landscape of India during coalition era of V.P. Singh, Chandrasekhar, I. K. Gujral, etc. when they had all the say in the decision making and Lucknow or Patna were controlling Delhi.

But after 2014, they realized the threat on their existence with Modi’s rise in Delhi powerplay. Congress didn’t try to go all out against these regional parties in UP and Bihar (between 1996-2010), indirectly giving them space to rise. But Mr. Modi’s political doctrine is based on snatching power everywhere electorally and democratically and make BJP strong. So, the game has begun with the opposition getting united and please don’t get surprised with Akhilesh-Rahul tie up in UP, as with 22%votes of SP plus 15% Congress votes (like 2014), they have the capacity to spoil BJP’s plans to return from their 14 years of exile. If this goes on we will have a fascinating general elections of 2019 waiting for us, that will certainly be a referendum on the acceptance of Modism vs The Rest, that has the power to alter the Indian political landscape forever. Keep your finger crossed.

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Mayank Kumar
Independent Columnist and researcher in Delhi University.

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