The Ramchandra Guha Column: Why BJP lost in the Hindi heartland
In this guest column for myvoice.opindia, eminent historian and intellectual Ramchandra Guha explain the reasons why the BJP lost elections in the Hindi heartland.
So, the assembly elections to the 5 states have concluded and as I had expected, the BJP lost in the Hindi heartland. There are many reasons put around for the defeats like demonetization, GST, agrarian distress etc. But none of these arguments passes the intellectual test. So using my expertise as a historian and intellectual, let me explain.
Modi is the reason the BJP lost. Narendra Modi seeks to make his party, his government, his administration and his country into an extension of his personality. He has a chappan inch chaati — a 56-inch chest — as he loudly boasts, and therefore all other men must bow down to his power and his authority. Mr Modi’s desire to dominate is manifest in his manner of speaking. You have only to listen to him for 15 minutes to know that this is a man who will push aside anyone who comes in his way.
To make his party into an extension of his personality, Modi, after becoming the Prime Minister, handpicked his own persons as Chief Ministers every time going against conventional wisdom. This is how Vijay Rupani, Manohar Lal Khattar, Devendra Fadnavis, Yogi Adityanath and others were picked.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raje and Manohar Parrikar were the only BJP Chief Ministers who were not handpicked by him. We saw how Modi after becoming Prime Minister first brought Manohar Parrikar to Delhi and then again moved him back to Goa thereby trying to unsettle him. However, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje were mass leaders and Modi found it difficult to cut them down to size. Modi also had another grudge against Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh. How dare they serve as Chief Ministers for a longer tenure than his own tenure as Chief Minister.
That is the reason he and his protege Amit Shah ran the campaign in such a way that all above Chief Ministers lost. Rather than highlighting the development work his government had done in the last 4 years, he attacked Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the maker of modern India thereby alienating the masses. You see, Modi is selfish and jealous and does not want others to benefit from his hard work.
Further, he asked his chum Mukesh Ambani to hold extravagant wedding celebrations for his daughter’s wedding in Udaipur in Rajasthan overlapping the polling date of 7th December in Rajasthan. The agenda was to mock the poor people with wedding extravaganza and incite them to vote against the BJP. What did you say? That BJP won Udaipur seat? Please do not bring your facts to meddle with my narrative.
Modi is a workaholic and does not even rest on weekends. After ensuring the defeat of Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan on Friday, he worked over the weekend to ensure that Urjit Patel resigned on Monday. Though Indian authorities had made a watertight case against Vijay Mallya, Modi gave the go-ahead to proceed with the extradition case only on Monday. If Mallya’s extradition had been announced earlier, the BJP would have easily crossed the halfway mark in Madhya Pradesh, something Modi would not relish.
These election results are a bit boost for Modi. After side-lining the previous generation of BJP leaders, he has now also managed to sideline the current generation of BJP leaders. With no checks and balances either in the opposition or within the BJP, Modi will now emerge as a hegemonic force.
To date, Modi has only brought in destructive reforms like Demonetization and GST. The idea was to make it difficult for the likes of Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh. Now, he will start with constructive things and win 2019. Extradition of Vijay Mallya is just a start. There are several tricks he has up his sleeve, like the Subhas Chandra Bose files for example. Did you folks already forget about that? Let me, a historian and intellectual remind you. Modi had promised to declassify the Bose files and reveal what happened to Subhas Chandra Bose. But he has not done so. He is keeping it as a weapon for 2019. He will declassify the files of India’s Fascist leader to play to the gallery of the Fascist Sangh and try to mock Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the maker of modern India.
To conclude let me respond to the queries about my 2 tweets on beef which no one has understood.
My 1st Tweet was:
“After a magical morning in Old Goa we had lunch in Panaji, where-since this is a BJP ruled state-I decided to eat beef in celebration.”
My 2nd Tweet was:
I have deleted the photo of my lunch in Goa as it was in poor taste.”
The intellectual pun I was trying to crack with the words “poor taste” was that beef no longer tastes as good in Modi’s India. However, given that Modi leads the most anti-intellectual government India has ever seen, it is no surprise that no one understood this intellectual pun.