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Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 8, February 14, 2015

BJP’s Fall and Emergence of Ethical Questions in Delhi Elections

Monday 16 February 2015

by Vivek Kumar Srivastava

The Delhi election results may come as a surprise to many including the BJP and PM Modi but the decline for the BJP was set in the UP by-elections. Several plausible explanations will be offered by the political pundits but many others, which tilted the balance against the BJP, can be found in the Lok Sabha election victory of the BJP.

The Lok Sabha poll victory was analysed as the Modi wave. True, it was; but it was never comprehensively analysed to bring out the major factors behind it. The logical understanding among the RSS, BJP and common people was that it was resurgence of Hinduism at the political level though that was not so. The victory was due to the follies of the UPA and desire among the people to find an alternative for governance in a better manner.

The Lok Sabha victory was followed by victories in the Assembly elections in several States. The BJP and its think-tank continued to harbour a misconception and their further strategies started from it. ‘Ghar wapsi’, statements by uncontrolled BJP leaders including Members of Parliament, and the egotist attitude of many BJP leaders made things difficult for Modi to govern. He remained silent as a consequence and the message was circulated among the people that he was in some or other way sympathetic to persons with intolerant religious overtones.

The BJP was convinced that its vote-bank among the Hindus was expanding but that proved to be a great miscalculation. Its image deteriorated with each passing day but that was never recognised at the party level.

The Delhi elections had raised some questions. The question of governance was very important wherein Arvind Kejriwal proved a better choice. People had observed that in the brief period of his governance, corruption had decreased. Day-to-day corruption was on the decline unlike under the Modi Government where its one strong department, the Railways, has not performed well. Corruption in that department has not been reduced and continues as in the past; the people are still perturbed by the Railways’ work culture. This type of comparison resulted in the common people going for a better choice. Modi had come to power chanting the song of development but he failed to appreciate the psyche of the people that in an unequal society, that too of Delhi, the citizens will never accept the agenda of Hinduism and corporate culture of the leaders. Their psyche is embedded in the socialistic culture. The poor know they have no option but to support those who can offer them freedom from day-to-day hassles and ensure real wage for their honest work.

 From this emerged another point of understanding through media communication and political communication. The electronic channels have come to dominate the life of individuals in a more influential manner in the last twenty years than the print or any other medium. The electronic channels leave their lasting imprint on the life of each individual. They distribute news which are highly unpalatable, being of low standard and incapable of generating critical thinking. The attack on the French media house was never analysed in a comprehensive manner nor were the other important news items presented in a way suited to the modern communicated world where analyses help to develop critical thinking among the people. The Indian youth have their own critical thinking in an enlightened city like Delhi where the role of certain electronic channels backfired. These channels had attempted to create a BJP hype since the days of the Lok Sabha elections but such efforts engendered sort of rhetoric and caused more damage to the party.

The political communication of many BJP leaders was not in good taste. The same mistake was committed by the Congress during the last elections when its leaders resorted to cheap tactics. The BJP did not learn any lesson from it. Even PM Modi’s oration is not of a high quality (though this truth has remained concealed and not been dissected in an analytical manner). His shallow utterings do not have the desired impact. These were overlooked as long as he talked of governance and development. The political communication of the AAP was better worked out. Kejriwal succeeded in the projection of an image of the common citizen. Modi came out as a man belonging to the corporate world. Unfortunately the political and electronic media helped in building such an image.

The Delhi elections also saw mismanagement of the Delhi BJP unit by its top leaders, particularly Amit Shah, who has been played up as a master strategist. Though in the UP by-elections he had not performed effectively, the BJP never recognised this fact.

Obama’s visit also had a negative effect on the BJP’s performance. His statements about religious tolerance helped to crystallise the image of the BJP as a religiously intolerant party. This image was bolstered by its anti-minority acts and statements of the party leaders.

The defeat of the BJP has set a process in motion. Ethical norms are now the need of the hour for political parties to survive and capture power. The Congress forgot this. The BJP got a chance but it too forgot this. The AAP is now the next choice of the people to function as a party with morality. This choice has come with tremendous support. The AAP perhaps knows the meaning of this choice. The BJP lost in this battle of governance, practice and adoption of ethical values. If the AAP continues to operate with these ethical values, the whole of India may accept the party as the real attemative in the unequal Indian society whose members now want to lead a life worth living.

The author is the Vice-Chairman, CSSP, Kanpur.