A ragtag opposition was no match for the well-oiled machine of the BJP. Besides, it lacked a counter-narrative.
Maqbool Ahmed Siraj
The Verdict-2019 has powered BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) into the seat of power in Delhi for a second time. It is a resounding victory of the BJP and its allies for all those who were expecting that the BJP had reached its peak in 2014. But given the disarray in the ranks of the Opposition parties, it is not surprising. With the decimation of some of the major regional foes of the BJP though some others have benefitted in alliance with the saffron party the mandate signals a stable five-year rule by the NDA at the Centre.
Howsoever one may detest the BJP’s ideology, one must reckon with the fact that the party has proved itself a firm fulcrum of power with smaller allies joining on margins and has reached the new peak with sustained hard work during the last few decades. The party has expanded its sway to wider areas across the states and threatens several regional bastions. Besides, there is no gainsaying that the party was cash-rich and had undiluted support from industrialists and business tycoons and was capable of shielding its pro-rich face under the religio-cultural mask that is gaining wider appeal.
The BJP’s most shocking victory has come from Uttar Pradesh, where the erstwhile social justice platform was sought to be presented as a substitute for the BJP, with the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal having stitched a formidable alliance. Efforts in the direction of converting it into legislative seats have come to naught. The party It has impressively improved its tally from the southern state of Karnataka.
Even more surprisingly, the revival of BJP’s fortunes in three states Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh should have a dumbfounding impact on the Congress, where the party failed miserably to consolidate its recent gains. The Congress victories in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were not emphatic and convincing and it needed votebanks of smaller allies to stay afloat. An element of arrogance was discernible in the way the Congress ignored overtures from SP and BSP in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi. This was reason enough for the SP-BSP-RLD combine to keep the party away from the loop in Uttar Pradesh.
Refusal to Reinvent
The Congress will have to blame none other than itself for the second time rout in a row, although the tally has improved marginally from 47 in 2014 to 52 this time. One had expected that the party would provide space for new and young leaders in Rajasthan (in this case Sachin Pilot) and Madhya Pradesh (Jyotirditya Scindia) to emerge on the top. But by choosing oldies like Ashok Gehlot and Kamalnath, it proved itself to be a party of the old, the worn-out and the past. In Karnataka, too many power-hungry leaders have made the life a hell for Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and governance a mess with their statements on a day to day basis during the last one year. Refusal to show a give-and-take spirit with the Left parties in West Bengal undid the prospects of an alliance in West Bengal, where the twain could have vied for the major Opposition slot. Interestingly, most Congress seats 30 of the 52 now come from the four southern states. In the mainland states, the Congress has been reduced to a rump.
The election result points to irreversible decline of the Left parties. Its erstwhile bastion, i.e., West Bengal, has returned none of the Left candidates. Kerala has sent just one CPI member. Ironically, it is Tamil Nadu from where four Left MPs (CPI 2 and CPM 2) have been elected as part of the alliance with the DMK.
With election victory behind them, the NDA is all likely to plump for and pursue pro-business policies and savagery of the capitalist lobby will grow fiercer. With the din over Mallaya, Choksi, Nirav Modi, Rafale Deal, farm crisis and jobless growth and countless cases of scams vanishing for some time, the new Government will feel emboldened in extending largesse to its corporate friends. Banking NPAs are set to grow as borrowers will turn defaulters with impunity. More chunks of forests are likely to go under the axe under one or the other excuse. Rivers will turn muddier and hills will get denuded with NGT closing its eyes from concessions allowed to lobbies practicing extractive economic policies. As for the social harmony front, less said the better. One only wishes good sense prevails and the new Government in office opts for inclusive approach giving up its divisive policies.
As for the Opposition, it would need to develop a counter narrative and a pan Indian leadership if it has to capture the imagination against the BJP. The rag-tag picture it presented was no match for the well-oiled BJP machine which roared from the word ‘go’.