The election result for the five states announced by the Election Commission of India on 10th March 2022 sends a very strong, candid and clear message across. It confirms the fact of revamping of the national political scenario for good. The Nehruvian India is a past now and has no future either. The current generation of Bharat looks and aspires in the context beyond the Congress ideology and practice. The churning of the last three decades of politics has brought the required results to the fore evidently.
The significance of the UP election results is special. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state of Bharat and is instrumental in shaping the mood and methods of national politics. The history of the last seven decades amply suggest the same. It sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha that shape the political fortune of the nation. BJP’s achieving two third majority in both the states of the erstwhile Uttar Pradesh, now Uttarakhnad and UP, consecutively over the last two elections is not an ordinary feat. It has a story for all to understand in an appropriate context.
In the parliamentary democracy, the percentage of votes has a meaning only when it gets converted into an appropriate number of seats. The direct, triangular or four-cornered contests have different arithmetic results. No party has come to power in UP consecutively for the second term over the last almost four decades. UP has been the centre of multi-cornered contests over the last more than three decades, thus giving different results every time. Moreover, the caste-ridden politics with the family feudalism in political parties played their overwhelming role in UP for the last a number of decades. Parties getting anything nearer to or around 30 percent of votes would be able to storm into power. Erstwhile Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party governments in UP are a testimony of this fact.
BJP is the only party in UP that brought in factors beyond the traditional ones in the political scenario of the state. It focussed on nationalist ideology, public welfare programmes, development, law and order and deliverance of promises. In order to ensure a smooth sailing, BJP also prepared its mind, long before, to think in terms of all possibilities of contests, i.e two-cornered, triangular or multi-cornered. Therefore, the whole focus over the last one decade in BJP was to increase the vote share of the party in UP and take it to around 40 percent for all practical purposes. It was a very huge task indeed.
The leadership of the PM, Narendra Modi and the strategy of Amit Shah realised this vision in 2014 general elections for Lok Sabha. Then the situation was to be consolidated further in terms of the state politics and 2017 state elections provided the required opportunity. Emphasis on Hindutva ideology, implementation of the central welfare schemes in the state and tightening of the law and order situation were on the main agenda of the BJP consistently. The leadership of the CM Yogi was perceived by the people as honest, down to earth, committed and blotless. These factors consolidated the vote share of the party that was reflected in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The state assembly elections this time evolved into a completely new scenario. Though the elections were perceived to be a multi-cornered fight, yet the other political parties wittingly or unwittingly converted the contest into a functional direct fight between BJP and SP. Other than the BJP and SP, no political party contributed to serious canvassing of their candidates in the manner that can be called befitting. Whether they decided in favour of transfer of votes to Samajwadi Party or not, but the facts confirm that the transfer of votes actually took place since the increase in the vote share of the SP was at the cost of the BSP and Congress primarily.
In such a scenario, BJP and its allies were fighting a virtual direct fight against the SP. Therefore, the consolidation of the earlier vote share was the most important factor for the party given the context that the party was in power for the last five years in the state and for the last eight years at the Centre. The 2017 UP election results were an altogether different scenario since that was a functional four-cornered contest and the Akhilesh Yadav government was also facing an anti-incumbency issue. A simple 40% vote share in such a scenario would mean a complete sweep and that happened in 2017. But this time the situation was altogether different and tough too.
The ideological focus of the BJP coupled with an honest and perfect deliverance of promises and a clean & dependable leadership took the vote share of BJP and its allies well beyond 40% that ensured a two third majority for the alliance of the ruling party. The increase in the vote share of BJP and its partners in UP in a functional direct fight while having been in the government for five years is possible only when the voters in general are completely satisfied with the performance of the party. It is equally an endorsement of the fact that the people of the state have already moved away from the pseudo-secular ideological politics, caste-ridden equations, family based political feudalism and divisive agenda based upon religious and fake down-trodden denominational narrative.
The election results of the other three states namely Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa more or less reflect the same message since all these three states had BJP governments therein. Their repeat and increased performances in volume and stature in Manipur and Goa are indicative of future political fortunes of BJP nationally. Punjab poll results have lock, stock and barrel rejected family based all permutations and combinations in the state who have been in power alternatively over the last sixty years. These have also alarmingly brought down their vote share along with the number of seats.
However, Punjab is a very sensitive state, and was also referred to by the PM in his 10th March speech at BJP headquarters. The path for the incumbent AAP is not an easy one in Punjab. BJP was not a major factor in the state as it was in a very strong alliance with the Akali Dal up to 2021 for the last five decades. It will have to build its future in Punjab afresh keeping in view the latest situation and it will be a long journey undoubtedly.
The Congress has lost its principle position in the national scenario of Bharat’s politics both politically and electorally. This is evident from the continuous failure of the party to fight its electoral battles and/or to lead the opposition. The current leadership of the party lacks all the three things i.e organisational culture, support on the ground and political acumen required to lead out of crisis.
The last eight years in particular confirms that the vote share of Congress at a national level is receding slowly and steadily. From a whooping 40% vote share four decades back, it has come down to approx 15% now, clearly a drop of 25%. Such a decline has not happened in a jiffy, it has happened gradually which means that its declined vote share has since shifted either to BJP or to the other political parties on a near permanent basis. Moreover, the current leadership of Congress seems both unequal and mismatched to the huge task of regaining the lost ground.
One of the biggest proponents of the Nehruvian era, writer Ramchandra Guha admits in his write-up that ‘the latest round of elections confirms, yet again, what some of us have known for a long time – that at least under its current leadership, the Congress is incapable of ever again becoming a major player in national politics…….. In an India that is becoming less feudalistic by the day, having fifth-generation dynasts at the head of India’s most storied party is a problem. What is a serious disadvantage becomes a crippling one once we juxtapose with unearned privilege a lack of political intelligence. Living as they do in the closed circle of their sycophants, the Gandhis have little understanding of how Indians in the 21st century actually think’.
In the background of these election results and the emerging political scenario, preparations for the elections in three states (Gujarat, HP and J&K) to be held by this year-end have vitually begun. It would be again the test of past performances, ideological commitments and deliverance of promises in these states. More and more positivity and productivity oriented political agenda in the elections is going to govern the mandate of the people with the passage of time. That is the biggest moral of the results of these elections.