If you’re wondering who I am, I am not any political pundit. I am just one of those millions of average citizens who voted for BJP & Modi last year. Yeah the one also called as a bhakt by many on social media. For so many of us, Sunday was a disappointing day. Not because BJP lost, but due to the fact that the party couldn’t see the writing on the wall. Now what this writing was; has been explained by many political commentators and analysts, mainly bashing BJP’s much hyped communal politics and anti-beef campaign. This is the second major defeat including the infamous Delhi election after May 2014. When the Delhi results unfolded, I failed to understand why would people so overwhelmingly vote against BJP in 2015 when the party had had a clean sweep just a few months ago. I thought it was an aberration as it was a mix of clever campaigning and basic social arithmetic by the AAP along with rejection of Kiran Bedi perceived as an opportunist. But the Bihar mandate came as a jolt to see this has happened again successfully. A mega defeat yet again, even after the PM campaigned relentlessly to vote for development and shun caste politics. There was also the high voltage campaign by media about intolerance, Dadri murder and #awardwapsi. Everyone I spoke to say the negative campaign of BJP led them to this disaster. Let me add my 2 cents as an amateur analyst about what went wrong in Bihar & how the national politics has changed since the judgement day in May 2014.
The fact that Modi rode a phenomenal wave for lok sabha on the back of a stellar campaign has been accepted even by his harshest critics. But then there were also many insinuations made by the media and chatter class analyzing the mandate about what was said and not said. Most importantly there was one about vote share to point out 69% of people have voted against Modi. This was scoffed at by the party and its supporters together. Even if there were some truth in it, this 69% vote was scattered and the BJP had done its homework to make sure the 31% arithmetic works in its favor. In the euphoria of the victory BJP had forgotten that the other parties have lost humiliatingly. There is one thing about being humiliated so badly, it will make you do hitherto inconceivable things. It was time to sharpen the knives again.
The dangers started when all the opponents started looking at this data and realized that there was a significant number of people who are against Modi and started working towards exploiting it. Enter the Mahagathbandhans. The ability of diametrically opposed political parties to junk their ideologies and come together with the sole motive to defeat BJP is being much underrated. It took time for the opposition parties to come to terms and that’s when BJP picked up victories in Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and J&K to an extent. Delhi, though was ripe with the high-pitched AAP and infighting local BJP and the dagger was well in!
From a distance, Delhi elections look like a landslide victory for Arvind Kejriwal and in fact there was a lot of support for him from the youth. But if he were to ride a wave, he would have won with similar margins in 2012. The 2015 Delhi result was a clever realignment of the Congress vote to AAP where congress quietly took a backseat. It was an invisible alliance.
Mahagathbandhan was formed on this backdrop with data in hand. Vote share of the BJP went down from around 30% in 2010 to 25% based on the initial reports that came in on sunday. The MGB got around 40% of the vote overall including others like the Congress party. I am not of the belief that people are vastly influenced by the news trends of the last 5 weeks or the campaigns while choosing a government for next 5 years based. Media with its arrogance believes it can impact the mandates. In my opinion the vote swings at the max are 2-3% which is significant but not enough to overturn the fortunes.
That the political geography of India is based on deep rooted vote banks is not rocket science. The 30-35% vote share which the BJP gets is mainly urban and upper caste. To expect landslides with barely 1/3rd vote is not practical anymore. If the BJP expects to win more states or defend the mandate in 2019, there is an urgent need for reform in the approach towards elections. By making development visible, by creating local structures of the party and grooming new age leaders. Case in point is the dynamic MP from Mysuru, Mr. Pratap Simha who has built a brand in his constituency as a doer. Now is the time to take such brands beyond the constituency and get noticed within the state. The fringe loud mouths are causing a lot of damage and need to be promptly shunted out if you expect more liberal people to vote for you.
I complimented BJP for providing Kiran Bedi an opportunity as a CM candidate even though it was a done haphazardly at the last minute and she along with the party failed miserably. It was still a forward looking step and should have been continued. Voters today need to identify who they’re voting for, which ironically should have been one of the major learnings of 2014 mandate. They are tired of voting for you Mr. Modi. People with all due respect do not even recognize or remember who are the CMs of Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa or even Gujarat for that matter unless they make harebrained comments in the media. I wonder why the sole reason of rise of brand Modi is being junked when there is a need to create more and more such Narendra Modis. The doers.
And that is only when one can expect over 50% of the vote without any threats from the so called Mahagathbandhans.