In the Hindi heartland, BJP is down but not out
The recent 5-state assembly elections ended with surprising results upsetting the speculation of exit polls. Congress and BJP locked horns in the three major states of Hindi/Hindu heartland: Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. BJP lost Chhattisgarh hands down as the farmers were lured by the high loan-waiver and other tall promises to alleviate the farmers’ distress, jobs for the youth and other doles to the people by Congress. Being in opposition one can show the moon to grab power.
Being in power for so long, having been blessed to be the Chief Minister for three consecutive terms to be in power by the people, Shri Raman Singh knew the practical problems of such promises to be carried out. As a hardcore ideologue of BJP, the (former) CM did what he could in his capacity while in the ruling. After a long period of one-party rule in the state, the voter-fatigue had set-in coupled with it the enticement of sops by Congress that are sky-high, the voters have been drawn to the new face and new rule.
Coming to Rajasthan, the defeat in the state was a foregone conclusion by the media. So it was not a shocker for many. Yet the BJP had given a tough fight leaving Congress only to scrape through. The last leg of the Rajasthan campaign was no-holds-barred with all BJP machinery and its tall leaders in place for a carpet bombing campaign. However, the aspirations of the people in the desert-state, always oscillate like a pendulum from one party to other for fulfilment in each election. So, they alternate every five years to see their minimal lives get a maximal illume. Every government falls short of its promises that are made during their election campaign, so is their drubbing in the next, especially in Rajasthan as the terrain of the state happens to be dry though people are hardworking.
Madhya Pradesh is an ideological bastion of BJP from its Jana Sangh days. Here BJP gave a neck and neck fight with Congress. Again the Chief Minister there, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan though an approachable humble and modest leader could not cut much ice with people to bring big margins for BJP’s victory. His long innings, unfulfilled promises, agrarian distress had set sunset to his rule. The opposition Congress, showing a kind of (partially) unified face of their leaders (Kamal Nath, Jyothiraditya Scindia, Digvijaya Singh et.al) could take the power by a low score. Congress is the principal opposition party took the maximum mileage out of the unfulfilled dreams of the people. It beat the Hindutva party in its own game by promising to sell refined and bottled ‘gau mutra’ and arranging a gaushala (shelter for cows) in each hamlet. Added to this, the party president, Shri Rahul Gandhi’s embrace of Hinduism.
Every government though makes great promises to people before elections, has its limitations in power, so the ousting of the incumbent government has become a new normal. There are various reasons for Telangana state election result being pro-incumbent. The main factor was the support of Muslim vote-bank which was huge in number. Next, Asaddudin Owaisi of the AIMIM backed K Chandrasekhar Rao to the hilt for the kind of benefits he had granted and delivered to Muslims during his tenure and for also the promise of 12% reservations to the community. By giving incentives to Muslims, he saw to it that he did not deprive the Hindus either. He bisected Hindus into castes and given them their due by doling out some petty thing or the other. His policy of giving sops includes to an extent the poor among the upper castes also whether they reached the beneficiaries or not is unknown. His distribution of goodies, in any case, throws the state into a deep debt-trap. It doesn’t matter to him. Of course, that’s another story for another day.
K Chandrasekhar Rao aka KCR is a staunch Hindu, follows Hindu rituals and does Yagnas (havans) in public glare. He is a good orator. A revolutionary leader of Telangana with multiple talents to appeal people in the region in place, BJP could not take on him at the present juncture. In any case, local BJP leaders are a spent-force with no fighting spirit. The lone BJP MLA, who won and got reelected in the election this time around is Raja Singh, a strong backer of Hindu cause and could take on the Muslim atrocities in the old city of Hyderabad head-on that got appreciation by the local people of the area for him to win. The result in the small tiny state – Mizoram of the northeast, is as expected. Naturally, they voted for a Christian dominated MNF party.
Government after government in India, be it in the Centre or state, is facing the same problems viz. agrarian distress, employment for youth and better infrastructural facilities. People, in general, are not wishing for mere survival. They are seeking for a better survival with better roads, strong uninterrupted power supply and clean drinking water. In a country with a continental population, it seems, it’s a hope against hope for a drastic change of condition. The BJP government at the Centre has been trying hard to give ‘all’ and could succeed to an extent on electricity, roads and solar energy front. Even for farmers, the party is advocating for a better technology- support. It is also trying to move them to urban areas for employment as farming is not a lucrative job any more. As farmers got used to their work and environs they are unable to shift to new pastures and unknown work conditions. Similarly, as the government jobs are scarce and shrinking, the BJP government at the Centre wanted to promote entrepreneurial skills in the youth so that they could find themselves by doing business on their own and provide jobs to others.
To meet this end, the Govt. Provided ease of business plans and tax incentives also. The start of ‘Make In India’ program is one such endeavour though unfortunately, it did not take a big leap. However, they tried to improve the skills of youth in many ways for their self-employment. The cushy government jobs, now, no government of any party could afford any more. The policies DEMO and GST though the government has done with an intention to streamline the economy, they have their own shortcomings.
The subtle underpinning to Congresses’ victory is the reformulation of its policy of secularism that earlier undermined the majority Hindu community. Rahul Gandhi, all of a sudden, became an ardent Hindu shedding his party image of pro-Muslim. BJP, on the other hand, tried to shed a bit of its Hindu exclusivist party image to include and accommodate minorities to have a pan India appeal. This can be said by the party’s reluctance to take up Ramjanmabhoomi issue (the cause that had catapulted it to a major power in politics) with a sufficient passion. More than the temple in place, the party should view it as honoring its long standing commitment given to people, mainly the Hindus who are its core-vote base. The sooner the party finds a solution, the better. Then the 2019 is a smooth sail.
I am Indira Garimella living in Hyderabad. I hold a Master’s Degree and M. Phil (in English) with M.Ed. I worked as PGT in English in Government run Residential Schools. I have been associated with Pragna Bharati, Hyderabad (an RSS backed NGO) for the past 25 years. I was one of the office-bearers in the Organisation from 1994 to 2004 i.e. I was the in-charge of Publications during that period. I have been a keen observer of National Politics and also write letters and articles to the English and Telugu newspapers from time to time.