Message from 5 state elections

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Modi government just celebrated its two years in power.  The party marked it by holding a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur. The rally saw the participation of a number of senior faces of the government and the BJP. UP was a strategic location for the rally in the light of the Assembly elections scheduled to be held next year. Modi called himself a UP-walla. The PM for once went back to his development plank, otherwise battered by the curtailing of freedoms in the country and the  systematic attacks on the minorities, particularly Muslims. He asserted that “development was the cure for all diseases” and reeled out a list of initiatives for the poor, farmers, women and the youth undertaken by his government.

 The home minister Rajnath Singh, however, delivered more electorally oriented speech.  He said, and rightly so, that the Congress was vanishing fast. This is something that was clear from the results of the recent Assembly polls in five states. Congress fared abysmally in all but Puducherry. Though BJP also lagged behind in four states, it rode spectacularly to power in Assam.  Given the complexity of the state’s demographics, nobody expected the party to make a government in the North Eastern state. If anything, the Assembly elections in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Assam once again prove that India is transforming and fast losing its secular moorings. It shows an India where a substantial section of population is rallying around the politics of religious hatred, even while subtly disguising it as a development agenda. For Modi is no Atal Bihari Vajpayee or even L K Advani who rode to political stardom on the demolition of Babri Masjid.  Modi’s ticket to national leadership and from thereon to the prime ministership of the country is an organized communal program.   The unlikely sweep in Assam shows that in two years, Modi’s hard right politics has lost little of its resonance. The recent elections proved that BJP is now the only genuine pan-Indian party. Congress, on the contrary is a rump, reduced to ruling just 6 percent of India. The party has thus sunk to its unprecedented low. 

Perhaps, the biggest  reason for the Congress decline is that the grand old party doesn’t  seem to  represent  anything in ideological terms. In recent years, the closest that the party has come to ideology is the soft-Hindutva. The party has tried to ape Hindutva. It has all but given up its secular, liberal credentials which anyways have already been suspect. While Modi created a robust ideological narrative about Hindutva, Congress all but abandoned its  secular discourse, choosing rather to be apologetic about it, lest it alienate the majority community. In the process, Congress has lost the confidence of both the majority and the minorities.

But this is something that the regional parties didn’t do. They stood up to Modi. They aggressively defended their political and ideological turfs. The election results in the four out of the five states once again proves this fact. You cannot defeat Modi by acting as the counterfeit champion of his political outlook but standing for your core principles, if you really  believe in them.

 

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