Assembly polls will be different ball game

By T N Ashok. Dated: 11/8/2019 11:57:41 AM

The question is will political rhetoric from both Modi through brilliant oratory skills and the cunning craftshmanship of ace pollster Amit Shah hold the party's charisma in the future , that is 2024 remains to be seen as harsh economic realities such as joblessness, unemployment, slow growth, lack of investor interest, banks rising NPAS and reluctance to lend, manufacturers reluctance to kick start production have virtually over ridden political rhetoric.
The verdict from the recent assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana reaffirm two fundamentals of Indian politics that the Narendra Modi juggernaut has sought to obliterate. One, voters make discerning choices and often vote differently in parliamentary and assembly elections. Two, strong regional chieftains with mass bases can hold their own in their strongholds against state leaders of the BJP even as Modi dominates the national political landscape." Nationalist Congress Party stalwart Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra and Congress Jat doyen Bhupinder Singh Hooda, together with youthful newbie Dushyant Chautala of the JannayakJanta Party (JJP) in Haryana exposed the BJP's soft underbelly with surprisingly good performances that left incumbent chief ministers Devendra Fadnavis and ManoharLalKhattar gasping as they failed to touch the majority mark.
Political pundits seem to agree with this opinion as they claim that the fractured results of the first assembly polls soon after the 2019 general elections sweep of Modi, clearly point to the writing on the wall - that while it is too early to speculate a turnaround in voter behaviour , the unexpected result spell dangerous consequences for the juggernaut Modi as he advances into his second term as harsh economic realities catch up over political rhetoric, adhoc quick fix measurs of the FM Ms Nirmala Sitharaman proved futile.Better to put money in the hands of the people in the form of tax breaks instead of huge tax concessions to the rich industrialists who are yet to resume production.
The Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections have shown that so called national issues(article 370 scrapping) cannot be used to brush aside people's concerns in a state election says Arti. The BJP wove its campaign narrative around hyper-nationalism, the Pakistan bogey and other muscular issues. It did not cut much ice with the electorate in the two states voting for the next chief minister. Top of-the-mind recall with voters was job losses, the economic slowdown, agrarian distress and other bread-and-butter issues.
The Modi government has indeed woken up to the harsh reality of a sub-terranian economic crisis, FM Sitharaman has to attack the problems of job losses, slowdown in growth frontally, that is taking the bull by the horns. Only then the BJP will be able to check its slide in the in the upcoming assembly elections. Six months hence, Jharkhand and Delhi, go to the polls in Feb 2020. The two north Indian states, where BJP is strong, becomes the battleground to test the muscle power of their political honchos and their equations with the voters. Current trends show Delhi CM ArvindKejriwal is the strongman as he has shown a lot of good work on the ground with his mohalla clinics and health and education programmes. People still adore him as an educated man doing good.
Political pundits say that in India caste plays a huge role in voting patterns particularly in the assembly elections. Modi has proved that in both the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls he can transcend caste based voting when you fight opposition in a US style whistle stop tour hurricane campaign solely on his charisma of anti- corruption hero with well-established credentials on national issues in his fifteen year reigns as CM of Gujarat.
However, the dynamics change when the battle is for the state. Voters in both Maharashtra and Haryana showed how important caste is, with the two dominant communities in these states - Marathas and Jats - consolidating behind opposition parties to send a stern message to the BJP for ignoring them, political pundits say echoing the sentiments of the veteran political commentator.
BJP's non-traditional campaign of rooting for a Brahmin as CM in Maharashtra and Jat as a leader in Haryana cutting across castes with Hindu nationalism overriding it, the BJP's anti-caste game virtually exploded five months later in the assembly polls after turning a historic victory at the loksabha polls. Indeed a paradox of sorts."The simmering anger among the hegemonic castes against the BJP's non-traditional caste games exploded. The results show that the Jats flocked to the Congress and JJP to vote for the candidate most likely to defeat the BJP.
Regional satraps remain strong as evidenced by the aging cancer stricken 79 year old Pawar, who ran an energetic campaign despite his failing health and despite the dissensions in the party - the fight for power and succession between brother AjitPawar and daughter Ms SupriyaSule. In pouring rain Pawarinvoked Maratha pride. Hooda and DushyantChautala in Haryana campaigned vigorously too. Maharashtra and Haryana have shown BJP lacks a leader like Modi at the state level. Both Phadnavis and Khattar could not take on the might of strong satraps such as Pawar and Hooda. What saved the day for them was perhaps Modi's high-voltage campaign, but that was not enough in a state poll as the results revealed.The battle ground is shifting from the centre to the states now as a number of elections in the assemblies are due such as Jharkhand, Delhi Tamil Nadu and others.
His vigorous campaign generated a sympathy wave among his Maratha clansmen and his success has boosted him as the leading face of the Opposition.
What effect the alleged harassment of former FM Chidambaram on INOX case of CBI will have on the people of Tamil Nadu and the intelligentsia will come out as a cropper for the BJP in the next elections. Also, Gandhi family should understand, nurture regionalleaders givingenough political space to operate. If the Congress reared its head in Haryana, it's all credit to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who handed the reins to Hooda and kept away from the campaign. Rahul Gandhi too hardly showed his face in the two states. The Congress has to retain Sonia Gandhi as leader till the 2024 polls and assembly polls in other states are over and show a sense of mature leadership against a charismatic aggressive nationalist sentimental leadership of the likes of Prime Minister NarendraModi. Tough call. May not be curtains down for Congress, defectors please note; your political career is at stake. They could end up like the Mujahirs of Pakistan.
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