THE CITIZEN COMMENT | 24 MAY, 2019
A BJP victory that eclipses 2014
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah ---the wonder duo---crafted a strategy and an election that has swept them to power. It is a victory that eclipses 2014, and has dented precisely the states that Shah had spoken of earlier as the new targets -- Odisha, West Bengal along with the North-East.
In Bihar and Karnataka the party has virtually decimated the opposition. In Uttar Pradesh, the gathbandhan despite all predictions (including The Citizen) has been pushed to a poor second place despite the arithmetic that stood in its favour, and a strong campaign.
In the states where the Congress was in direct contest with the BJP, it has collapsed completely. And perhaps this was only predictable election result as it had become apparent that even in the states --Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh--- where it had won the Assembly elections, the Congress had been unable to mount even the semblance of a counter.
Rahul Gandhi lost from Amethi, Digvijay Singh from Bhopal to a terror accused, and Jyotiraditya Scindia lost his own seat in Madhya Pradesh. Heads rolled, but not one of any significance from the BJP.
There are many now who are blaming the electronic voting machines, and speaking of a conspiracy that Modi and his men have effectively put in place. This now is literally hogwash, as for five years the issue was being raised over and over again by concerned civil society members with the Opposition taking it up on and off, without any real consistent follow up. For instance there was no mention of EVMs when the Congress won three state Assembly elections last year, or when the gatbandhan wrested Gorakhpur, Kairana and Phulpur from the BJP in the UP by polls. If it was actually concerned, the Opposition should have created a stir, stopping all movement forward until the EVMs were checked out, or the paper ballot reintroduced.
Rushing around like headless chickens in the midst of an election is neither here nor there, and merely serves to confuse the voter further.
No the BJP won because of the combined effort of Modi, Shah and of course the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh cadres whose commitment and discipline to the cause that they are indoctrinated to propagate, is unequestionable. These two BJP leaders have no match in the Opposition, in terms of strategising, crafting, organising. They are workaholics, they leave absolutely nothing to chance, and do not rest until they achieve their aim.
There is no hiatus for them. The work is constant and consistent. They started preparing for 2019 from 2014. They decided on the states they would target, the communities they would work on, the media they would control. The results are a clear indication of this, with the furrows on their brows that had opposition leaders crowing with glee were caused by concerns about increasing their margin. Not by any prospect of losing.
Yes, the card they play is laced with divisiveness and hate. Yes, their strategy includes fake propaganda and lies. Yes, they create enemies and act against them. But then they do not lie about the fundamentals: that they are part of the RSS, that they are wedded to a majoritarian state, that they as per the RSS indoctrination will use any means to realise their aims. And it is well known, with volumes written about it that the RSS has a generic hate for the Muslims just like the Muslim League of yesteryears nurtured a generic hate for the Hindus. And for both the enemy remained the secularists as even if these cannot stop their march, they provide irritants that delay the inevitable.
Take two of the BJPs target states. Karnataka in the south. And West Bengal in the north. Just the way in which they fanned out into these states, worked in the field consistently, made life difficult for the ruling political dispensations, wooed the intelligentsia along with targeted communities, and even while offering the heady potion of a Hindu rashtra sold Narendra Modi as the man who alone could realise the dreams, and free them not just from the Muslims but the political parties who were branded as anti-national, pro-minority, traitors. The propaganda machinery is huge, but it is under strict control, it is used more and more strategically on points that Modi-Shah want to reinforce. Like ‘chowkidar’ that was aggressive and clever.
The duo take the credit but they have the huge support of the RSS that has grown dramatically in these five years, plugged loopholes, and created huge armies of lumpens and others who are directly under its command. So when Pragya Thakur --- the next step after Yogi Adityanath to the realisation of Golwalkers agenda---seemed to falter a bit, “divisions” as locals put it, of RSS cadres were moved in to take over the campaign. Again in Begusarai in Bihar, again a targeted seat because of the urgency to defeat Kanhaiya Kumar, RSS cadres moved in to virtually take over the constituency. As the Left campaigning for Kumar disclosed now, RSS workers pretending to be Kumar’s supporters, visited homes of supporters in rural villages to tutor them how to press the button on the EVM for him. Except that the button was not his, obviously.
This was true all over West Bengal, with special focus on the seats where the illegal migration issue had resonance and could be ratcheted up. Majoritarian state, national security, and a strong leader who can deliver so give him another chance at the centre was the mix that worked for the majority of voters, including the aspirational youth. This worked in UP, over and above economic difficulties. Clearly the potion was so heady, and so convincing that the poorest of the poor was able to set aside their problems of livelihood, and accept the new formula that is of course based on: once we sort all this out, this country is yours.
The poor of India have waited 70 years without any hope being realised. In front of them were all the other faces ---same people, same promises --and Modi. Clearly given the semantics, and the entire package delivered to them through the strong campaign, they chose the latter. Every five years the poor are confronted with a new package: Garibi Hatao being one of the milestones that got the votes but did little. Since 2014 it has been Hindu Rashtra, as if by achieving this, the living hell on this earth will be turned into paradise. So when demonetisation ate into the economy, the people found consolation in the Modi assurance that this sacrifice was necessary for the final end. And hence while economists scratched their heads, the people disregarded the economic assault and voted BJP yet again.
India has not turned communal, but it does not mind communalism if it brings with it economic relief. The Muslim has become sufficiently passe, not to matter if he is lynched or pushed out of the centre fold of India’s development. Poverty creates desperation, and the BJP has tapped into this desperation to promise a new moon with the well crafted proviso that the people have to join it in creating the space and endorsing it’s politics. That Pragya Thakur has already set a new goal post is for the intelligentsia perhaps to know, matters little to the people. To understand this more completely, if Pragya Thakur with all her rantings intact had been the Opposition candidate for instance in these elections, she would not have won. So its not just about what she stands for, but who she represents.
Essential to all this is Narendra Modi, as he works. People see in him a strong leader, and he is convincing when he tells them that he will deliver all and more. But just needs opportunity and time. And with that he will change the face of India. An unemployed young man in the village of Basti, hears this, sees it through the day and night in the media, meets the RSS worker at the tea shop, at the nukkad, answering any questions he might have, sees the old tired opposition faces around with little to say by way of a counter narrative that convinces him.
Can you question that young man at the end of five years for voting Modi?
Read Here: Why the Opposition Lost