Mainstream, VOL LII No 36, August 30, 2014
BJP’s Electoral Setbacks and Headaches
Sunday 31 August 2014, by
The electoral success of the joint front of the JD (U)-RJD-Congress in the recent Bihar by-elections has been able to establish not just the limits of the Modi wave but also the fallacy on the part of the ruling combine in general, and the BJP run by Narendra Modi and his protege Amit Shah in particular, to take the electorate for granted. It has once again confirmed that if the secular forces unite to prevent the split in secular votes, the BJP cannot possibly hope to repeat the 2014 Lok Sabha election outcome especially in north India. This has naturally given a fillip to the anti-BJP Opposition. The BJP’s electoral setbacks and reverses not just in Bihar but in Utttarakhand and Karnataka as well have further reinforced the view that the main constitutent of the ruling coalition at the Centre is not as invincible as it appeared earlier in the wake of the parliamentary poll results. The significance of this development cannot be underrated even as one has to point out that the Modi Government’s failure to arrest price rise and effectively tackle corruption, the twin issues that helped it to secure the massive poopular mandate in the Lok Sabha elections, was primarily responsible for its unsatisfactory perfor-mance in the bypolls.
One has to closely observe the kind of impact the by-election results would have on the upcoming Assembly polls in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and J&K as well as in the bypolls in 11 Assembly constituencies of UP. But what is a matter of grave concern is the manner in which the BJP is continuing with its policy of communal polarisation in UP with such persons as Yogi Adityanath, under the directive of the RSS and BJP President, being allowed to carry on their divisive majoritarian propaganda targeted against the minorities in general and Muslims in particular.
At the same time the BJP’s Pakistan policy and its approach to Kashmir have the potential to not merely change the status quo but also unsettle the situation in that region. This will definitely hurt national interest at this juncture. The complexities of the problems have to be tackled not through knee-jerk reaction (which is what the Modi Government has been doing) but in a mature way. However, that sense of maturity is yet to dawn on the NDA dispensation.
The Modi Ministry has lately been affected by a series of insidious rumours that prompted Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to suddenly make an explosive pronouncement which compelled both the PMO and BJP President to issue public statements standing by him. This is the first manifestation of infighting within the BJP in spite of its resounding victory in the parliamentary poll. This can, needless to warn, destabilise the government in the days ahead.
The BJP is free to ignore such headaches afflicting it at present but only at its peril. The way it is seeking to tackle the problems on its path, as in UP, can further complicate matters for it without giving it the expected dividends. But more importantly, it can cause irreparable damage to the polity by laying the foundations of permanent division in the society at large. That needs to be resisted at all costs.
August 28 S.C.