Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bihar Results - pre-cursor to BJP's Lok Sabha defeat in 2019?

When the Bihar results were to be announced on Nov 8th I was very positive that a) Nitish would get maximum seats b)Lalu Yadav would get close to 30 out of 100 seats and c) Congress may bag 10 seats leading to the formation of JD(U) government. However, the result was a clean sweep for JD(U) and a humiliating defeat for the Modi led BJP. The internet and social media is flooded with their own endless loop of analysis and counter analysis as to what went wrong and what caused BJP this embarrassing defeat. 

One fact that is beyond debate is that the BJP did not project a good state leader and was campaigning the same way like the Congress does. This is the second time that BJP did not project any face and chose to contest in the name of the PM. It was pretty much looking like Congress campaigning in the name of the Gandhi family. BJP is not Congress and should not have treaded that path. The purpose of writing this article is not to elaborate on the election defeat, but to visualize its national implications.

The larger impact of the election is that anti-BJP forces have strengthened themselves. The biggest irony of national politics in India is that BJP has more enemies than friends, whereas Congress has more friends than enemies. When BJP ascends, all forces move towards Congress and when Congress descends, all forces attempt to form the Third front which collapses even before it is made. At this point in time, Nitish is that trump card that the third front could use in 2019 Lok Sabha election. It is very much possible that Congress may support Nitish with the sole aim to defeat BJP. Bihar election results has only emboldened the determination of all regional parties opposed to BJP to come together and stand with or without Congress. These regional parties control a huge chunk of numbers in Rajya Sabha making it harder for the government to get bills passed.

Let's understand that these very parties existed in 2014 too. However, it was one leader, one determined person who led to an unbelievable and unimaginable electoral victory and that was our PM. Our PM is still 9th most powerful person in the world, the only Executive head (India) who is controlling the government with strength never before seen (after 1980) and has an unmatched vision and strategy to implement sea changing governing policies. Yet the pace of governance is slow and is not matching up to the expectations. The PM cannot allow the opposition to dominate in 2019. The only way he can do this is completely change the narrative through some ground breaking results to see. 

At this point it is very clear that the Parliament will not be allowed to function and the PM will be stopped on all of his bills. The crucial GST bill, Land Acquisition Bill, Labor Reforms is surely out of reach till the next Lok Sabha election. While the PM has to initiate a dialogue with the opposition he also has to venture outside Parliament to do several wonders. Examples - building houses for all, decreasing the infant mortality rate, ensuring electrification of all villages, inter linking of rivers, bringing back black money, modernizing railway stations, generating a second green revolution, ensuring Jan Dhan Bank Accounts to get all subsidies eliminating middle men. These should be the focus of the PM. 

Not focusing on social issues has always costed BJP very dearly in Lok Sabha elections. It is very easy for the opposition to raise these issues and create a negative atmosphere and shift the voters away from voting again for the PM.  It does appear that this is becoming the narrative on which all regional parties (opposed to the BJP) will campaign in 2019. Nitish could be that clean face that will be projected as the possible PM candidate and several swaths of Eastern India will vote for him. An aspect that cannot be ignored is that despite the pitch for governance and progress, people may not align with the PM and this is where his communication skills may defeat him even though he will use it to the fullest extent. 

Rahul Gandhi still is no match for the PM. The only person who can even credibly challenge the PM is Nitish Kumar. Personally, I don't consider Nitish any match to the PM at the national level. The PM must seize this defeat and convert every attempt by the opposition to derail him into an opportunity to bounce back. If this doesn't happen 2019 will be a reflection of Bihar 2015.

2019 must also not be 2004 where a government that changed the face of India into a hub of growth suddenly disappeared because voters were disenchanted and voted them out. The PM cannot solely campaign on the basis of economic growth and job creation. Rural India won't understand this and large sections of urban India won't appreciate this and vote. No Indian PM has ever been rel-elected only on the basis of economic growth results.

The uniqueness of our PM is that he was able to usher in agricultural growth through scientific technologies while balancing the industrial growth in his state as a CM. This unique trait needs to be demonstrated at the national level. Three years is still a long time in Indian politics. The journey though appears to be dark inside Parliament and bright outside.


1 comment:

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