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Time to introspect seriously

Time to introspect seriously
Highlights

“Congress is indulging in cheerleading for other parties. It should introspect and think why it is clapping.  Modi will become the Prime Minister in 2019. BJP will win more seats than it did in 2014. By-elections are not the barometer as people in India are experiencing the good work done by Modi government.

“Congress is indulging in cheerleading for other parties. It should introspect and think why it is clapping. Modi will become the Prime Minister in 2019. BJP will win more seats than it did in 2014. By-elections are not the barometer as people in India are experiencing the good work done by Modi government. To take a big leap one has to take two steps forward,” thus say Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad and other BJP leaders of the debacle in the latest bypolls.

But heart of hearts, the BJP knows that the bypoll results reflect the anger of the people against the Narendra Modi-led BJP government. Such a situation about 8 to 9 months ahead of the 2019 general elections indicates that the BJP has slipped badly in being cohesive in engaging with the allies and has not been very successful in addressing the issues of Dalits and farmers either.

The rise of petroleum prices is another reason for the growing anger against the central government. Even Uddhav Thackeray said that the Shiv Sena thought that BJP government was here to stay for at least 25 years but just after four years they were losing elections.

Third big loss in three months close on the heels of Phulpur and Gorakhpur shows that the saffron party needs to introspect and take up damage-control exercise if it were to come back to power in 2019. It’s time they climb down from the imaginary platform of being larger than life they had created for themselves. I am reminded of the days when Indira Gandhi also fell for the propaganda that “India is Indira and Indira is India.” Her actions had become unilateral. All those who opposed her were treated as her enemies and finally she imposed the Emergency.

The Emergency led to a crippling of institutions. All democratic norms, civil liberties, human rights were under attack and in many cases taken away. In fact, it was a complete abrogation of the Indian Constitution. It was during the Emergency that I understood what it meant to raise your voice against the government which was autocratic.

The present Union Minister Arun Jaitley was the president of the Delhi University students Union which was declared illegal. But he was considered a dare devil and he along with ABVP activists used to make a flash visit to various colleges affiliated to Delhi University and distribute literature explaining the dangers of Emergency and why students should fight against it.

Jaitley and his team used to come in un-numbered white Ambassador cars and disappear before one could notice them and alert the police. We as first year degree students used to hide the pamphlets in our socks, go into the wash rooms and quickly give them a reading.

But then the hawk-eyed intelligence sleuths had put all the educational institutions and some of us who were considered to anti-emergency under scanner and we were told that we would have to face serious consequences including arrest if we entertained any activity against the government.

To cut short the long story, finally Indira Gandhi had to pay a big price for her attitude. It was a silent revolution and I was one among those who actively participated in mobilising people to vote against the Congress party. There were about 10 votes in my family including those of my grandparents who were considered to be hardcore Congress supporters but with vengeance they went to the polling booth and were among the first ten to cast their votes and also showed the courage to announce that they voted against Congress. That was the pent-up anger of the common man.

Coming back to the present situation, even after the Telugu Desam Party walked out of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, BJP is in control of 21 state governments, of which 15 Chief Ministers are from BJP. In 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, NDA had governments in only seven states and BJP had four Chief Ministers.

In the 22 state elections since 2014, NDA won 15 and BJP got 11 more CMs. Bihar and Delhi were two elections it decisively lost, while coming a close second in Goa. Modi’s popularity was a key factor in BJPs rise. But following the defeat in Kairana, the BJP should understand that it is now faced with Modi v/s all others. It needs to take up a serious exercise if the it has to come back to power.

In last two months, BJP has lost by polls in all three regions. The BJP should not try to gloss over the reality saying the opposition was indulging in unethical wedding for the sake of defeating BJP and that a darned cloth cannot last long. It should indulge in some introspection and accept that the chemistry among opposition parties is only a small factor. The anger among the people due to failure of the BJP-led NDA government to address the problems of sugarcane farmers, failure to ensure minimum support price and check rising fuel prices are some of the facts which have resulted in disenchantment among people.

The reality which the BJP needs to accept is that there is going to be an alliance building exercise. It may not be one single front as some have been predicting. It could be region-wise front. As it stands today, BJP has to fight SP and BSP in UP, ally with Janata Dal (United) to take on Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar, eye some gains in West Bengal by fighting both Trinamool Congress and the Left, fight hard to dislodge the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and reverse the embarrassment of 2014 in Odisha.

In Andhra Pradesh, the party appears to have struck a deal with the YSRCP and Janasena. In Telangana they do not have much option but to go it alone. When it comes to Tamil Nadu they may have alliance with whomsoever they think is on the winning side. It’s clear that for BJP, the scoresheet for 2019 will depend largely on how it copes with regional parties, be it as an adversary or an ally.

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