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Mainstream, VOL LII, No 44, October 25, 2014

Assembly Poll Outcome: The Grim Reality

Friday 24 October 2014, by SC


The results of the State Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra have doubtless highlighted the fact that the Modi wave, that ensured a spectacular outcome for the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls (it won absolute majority on its own in the Lower House of Parliament, something on other party has been able to record in the past 25 years), was not on the wane, even if there was an optical illusion to that effect in the wake of the last by-election results. The BJP has increased its strength tenfold in Haryana (it had only four MLAs in the 90-member State Assembly earlier) and fourfold in Maharashtra (its tally was 46 in the 288-member State Assembly in the past)—outstanding successes indeed given the fact that in both States it was fighting alone without any alliance with any party, its 25-year pact with the Shiv Sena having snapped just before the polls in Maharashtra.

Under the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah leadership, the BJP has never had it so good. It is way ahead of all parties in both the States. Modi must be given his due for these electoral victories—his was the most significant contribution to the party’s extraordinary successes in the two States. However, even while conceding this fact what cannot be denied is the role of the money from the corporates that went to fund Modi’s electoral campaign and hence his victories in the State Assembly elections. Against such a backdrop it is but natural to underscore that the electoral feat is actually of the individual, Narendra Modi, and not of the party, the BJP.

The four factors that helped Modi and his Sancho Panza to register success in Maharashtra were the massive anti-incumbency factor against the ruling Congress-NCP combine, the RSS organisation’s allout support to Modi and his party from the grassroots (after all, Nagpur remains the RSS’ headquarters), the corporates’ enormous financial assistance to Modi and Modi’s own whirlwind campaign (something not seen since the days of Indira Gandhi). Yet despite such a favourable situation and the corporates’ full-scale backing of Modi, the BJP under Modi failed to attain absolute majority in the Assembly. One cannot possibly overestimate the significance of this outcome. What does it show? It shows what The Time of India editorially underlined yesterday: “That the BJP failed to hit the halfway mark in the State despite the PM’s 27 rallies is a sobering reminder to triumphalists who tend to forget just how hard-headed the Indian voter is.” At the same time it would be incorrect to ignore the fact that the Congress in Maharashtra did better than the party’s performance in the Lok Sabha polls. It is here that despite everything the party’s Mr Clean, outgoing CM Prthviraj Chavan, deserves to be complimented regardless of how the detractors in his party have lately started sharpening their knives against him in conformity with the Congress’ time-honoured culture.

For secular democrats the poll results signify a long haul no doubt, but with grit and determination they can overcome the heavy odds before them (as those in power are ready to bare their fangs anytime now). The outcome of the polls further strengthens the view that there is no alternative to uniting secular democrats wherever they are to confront the grim reality that stares them in the face today.

October 21 S.C.