I woke up this morning and saw that the BJP led NDA has won another five year term . Before my attention turns to the upcoming World Cup Cricket, I thought I will share a few thoughts
What separated BJP and INC ?
Granted it is difficult to dislodge incumbents since they have the whole government machinery on their side . But if there ever was a chance to kick out BJP from office, this was it. Demonetization was a failure, GST roll out was terrible , and so on – there was plenty of ammunition to use against BJP this time. And yet – BJP came back with an even bigger margin than last time. What just happened here ?
Amateur leadership from INC
INC had Rahul Gandhi as their face. He is an improved politician now (he is nearly 50 years old and has been at this for a while – so its about time too) with better speech writers, PR teams and all. But he is not a mass appeal leader like Modi . He has no grassroots experience working in the party – he entered politics as a leader, just because he war born in the right family.
I still can’t believe he lost Amethi to Irani. That is ample proof that he is not the right leader for INC any more. This was a safe seat for decades !
Neither does he have good political instincts – clearly shown by the inability to form useful coalitions, or raise strong enough protests against BJP when they faltered. INC is truly the only party that can match BJP in India – but their fascination for dynasty politics is their perpetual undoing. The voting public no longer thinks the Gandhi surname is special and divine . It is high time INC elected a different leader and looked past the Nehru family.
To add injury to insult – neither is Rahul Gandhi a smart political tactician or operator like Amit Shah. BJP did the smart thing by having Modi be the heart and Amit Shah as the head. Rahul might some day get the heart right if INC persists with him – but they need a better match for Amit Shah to have a fighting chance next time.
Nationalism is an effective strategy – and potent when combined with religion
India had long held a globalist view – mostly thanks to Nehru setting down that path. Modi changed the narrative to a nationalist agenda, much like Trump in USA. He also played hard to convince the majority Hindu community to come together with his hindutva rhetoric. That was BJP’s central message – they could not really ask for votes based on their performance.
Perfect example of nationalism as a winning strategy was how BJP won more seats in Bengal than Trinamool Congress by painting them as soft on illegal immigration from Bangladesh, a primarily muslim neighboring country. BJP has largely negated the influence of regional parties – either by defeating them, or by forming useful alliances with them. Something INC can’t seem to get a handle of these days.
I honestly did not think hindutva will sell to this extent in India – I always thought India was a super secular place when I grew up there. What I clearly did not realize was that I was just projecting what I saw in Kerala (which did not let BJP win a single seat ever – and stayed true to that this time too ) to all over India. I am wrong . India is slowly moving towards Hindu unity.
I have several Christian and Muslim friends in India who are afraid of what BJP might do next. There were isolated incidents of religious intolerance in last five years . So it is reasonable that they feel some anxiety and fear and I wish they did not have to. Many of them took to social media to tarnish BJP and Modi – some almost did it as a full time hobby. Sadly, it seems to have had the opposite effect. All it seems to have done is that it convinced a lot more neutral Hindus to think BJP’s message may be right after all and they went and voted for BJP.
Kerala stays unique
My home state of Kerala did not let BJP win a single seat. Every election since independence has seen the incumbents being thrown out and replaced by opposition for the assembly elections . BJP tried to play up the issue of women going to Shabarimala as an attack on Hinduism. They had fielded good candidates in 3-4 seats but all of them lost. I see a lot of commentary now that it is Kerala’s loss in not electing a BJP leader. I think that is not true. Modi needs a strong opposition to keep India democratic and Kerala provides a good part of that to the parliament . Also there are good mature leaders like Tharoor who can work with BJP to get Kerala its fair share. I have a good feeling that BJP might even give a state minister job to Kummanam to make sure they have some chance of cracking open the state in future. We have to wait and see
Communism is officially dead nationally
Communist party hit an all time low this year winning only one seat in all of India – Alapuzha in Kerala – and that too by a slim margin. They have a failed ideology and cannot seem to find a way to reinvent themselves. They also paid a big prize for their CM’s arrogance in recent times. Outside Kerala – they are largely irrelevant any way by now.
What is next ?
I hope that extreme stances in elections return to a middle of the road approach to actual governance. BJP and NDA will probably get control of both houses of the parliament in a couple of years. I hope they use that majority in a very responsible way and not push for anti democratic or anti secular measures. I am fairly positive that they will govern responsibly as a government . I hope the majority Hindu community continue to live as great friends to their Muslim and Christian fellow citizens as they have done throughout history.
I also hope that INC builds itself back up from the ground and even if they won’t get to power soon – at least they become an effective opposition to BJP and provide the vital checks and balances in our democracy.