Daily Archives: March 13, 2017

Indian regional polls 2017: Anti-incumbency and media management help BJP outsmart highly polarized corrupt polity!

Indian regional polls 2017: Anti-incumbency and media management help BJP outsmart highly polarized corrupt polity!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff

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An eventful year 2017 will be important for Indian politics. Besides facing the crucial Presidential elections, five states such as Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have gone to polls in February, while Gujarat (PM Modi’s home state) and Himachal Pradesh will go to polls in 2018. While Uttar Pradesh (UP), Uttarakhand and Punjab have give given clear mandate to BJP and Congress party respectively, Goa and Manipur refused to give a clear mandate either Congress or BJP, but the federal ruling party BJP has got the upper as its governors supported BJP to form the government in these states, though it has got less v seats than Congress in both instances.

 

With President Pranab Mukherjee’s tenure ending on July 25, 2017, it would be interesting to see as to whom Narendra Modi’s government pitches for the top post. Surely, Pranab Mukherjee is time up and BJP’s PM Modi would not allow the Congressman in Pranab to enjoy affixing rubber –stamp on the documents sent from his office by offering him a second term. Modi and RSS may have another candidate for that job.

 

UP elections were expected to be indeed a litmus test for PM Modi’s post demonetisation from which entire nation suffered for months. Unfortunately the issue was not raised in the campaign as seriously as it deserved. BJP and Modi had a cake walk almost everywhere.

 

Fanatically extreme right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which grew and expanded its Hindu vote bank by targeting Muslims, Islam, mosques, Pakistan, China, etc, has come out in flying colors. BJP, a political offshoot of Hindutva RSS with links to all major parties in the country, including Congress and SP, has remained a communally divisive party seeking votes on Hindutva agenda rules and proved its Hindutva mettle in the poll once again in 5 regional polls 2017. UP has revealed that the ruling BJP with huge money packets directly from banks and a worst ever split politics in the state has made full use of anti-incumbency to its advantage.

 

It seems the BJP cannot give up its hatred politics because without that it simply cannot survive as it cannot package and sell its home made poison as vitamin. It has to talk about dangers India is facing all the time. For each state BJP has its own method of expanding vote banks but by and large hatred for “perceived enemies” liked Muslims, remains the backbone.

 

Yes, Narendra Modi has become the most important leader of India, above Hazare and Kejriwal who caught the imagination of entire nation with their anti-corruption movement against the Congress-BJP governments. BJP and PM Modi do deserve well wish for the electoral victory for working for equality in the nation. In a democracy, seats in state and federal assemblies decide government formation. However, seats could be won by politicians through cheap and undemocratic means.

 

A day after the so-called ‘Modi wave’ helped BJP storm to power in Uttar Pradesh after 14 years, securing an astounding three-fourths majority in a keenly-contested Assembly polls, Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said that Narendra Modi was the most dominant political leader in the country at present. He also said that the scale of the BJP’s victory in UP and Uttarakhand was unprecedented and mind-boggling. He further wrote, among other things, “The man of the moment is Narendra Modi. He has convincingly demonstrated that his appeal is pan-Indian. It extends from Gujarat and Goa to Assam and Manipur. After slipping badly in Bihar, Modi has regained his prime position as a master of communication and show and make entire media network to telecast live. The text of his message in 2014 was development, in 2017, he has cleverly altered the text to development+ and the debate has to now focus on that elusive and indefinable element that he has added to the text of his message. The sab in ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ has been subtly altered to include certain sections of the people and exclude others.”

However, people seem to have voted for BJP not for what Modi said or did not say, because they are disillusioned with corrupt parties like Congress, BSP and SP etc that have looted nation’s resources and ruined nation’s image. The local BJP people have clean image because they don’t enjoy power and money.

 

Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand

Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have conveniently stood by BJP. In fact, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have given a complete turnaround to Modi and his BJP after the backlash of demonetization.

 

In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP won 312 seats, including some of the Muslim-dominated seats such as Deoband, Chandpur, Moradabad Nagar, Noorpur, Naanpara and Nakur where analysts feel that Muslim votes got divided between Muslim candidates of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. Muslim candidates, however, managed to win seats like Meerut, Kairana, Najibabad, Moradabad Rural, Sambhal, Rampur and Suar-Tanda. Congress and SP betrayed the faith of Muslims by joint operations with BJP to reduce the Muslim MLAs form 89 in the last assembly to meager 24 MLAs now. Muslim leaders on their part also betrayed the Muslim community.

The BJP won with a clear majority in Uttarakhand with 57 seats in the 70-member assembly, ousting the Congress led by Harish. In politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, the saffron party witnessed an unprecedented victory with 321 seats, while the Congress-Samajwadi party alliance bagged 54, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) got 19 and others 18 seats respectively.

Showing astonishing performance, the BJP got 312 seats in the 403-member UP Assembly. Its allies Apna Dal(S) and SBSP bagged nine seats and four seats, respectively, taking the total tally of the combine to 325. On the other hand, the SP won 47 seats while its ally the Congress got pathetic 7 seats. The BSP won just 19 seats, finishing a dismal third. Significantly, the Congress lost all the four assembly seats in Amethi district, the pocket borough of Nehru-Gandhi family, with BJP bagging three of them. Congress leaders are limping. The BJP-led alliance also swept all the eight assembly segments falling under PM Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi. BJP also scored a massive victory in Uttarakhand winning 56 of the 70 seats in the state to storm to power, reducing Congress to minuscule minority in the state Assembly with a poor tally of 11 seats.

The BJP projects Muslims as a monolith to consolidate the Hindu votes by targeting Muslims. That was so for years until recently when Muslims voted enmasse for the Congress party thinking the Hindu Congress men are genuine  secular people. . But now contrary to general perception, Muslims do not vote en masse for any party.

A number of Muslim leaders conceded that a few seats did fall into the BJP lap because of the division of Muslim votes. But given the scale of victory the BJP got, it would not have mattered much had Muslims rallied behind any single party. Kamal Farooqui, a former member of Samajwadi Party, said the “division of the Muslim votes per se” is somewhat an “abstract concept”. ” The fact is Muslims vote just like normal voters on issues which concern them, It is simply not possible that all the Muslims in Uttar Pradesh vote for any one party. Muslim votes do matter… but they seldom go to a single candidate en masse in any constituency.” Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, National President of Welfare Party of India, said the BJP’s strategy had “successfully rendered the Muslim factor (in elections) ineffective”. Ilyas said the BJP as per the RSS pan to get every Hindu vote in the country, “succeeded in getting votes of Hindu backward castes minus Yadavs and Scheduled Castes minus Jatavs.

This new type of social engineering is being seen after the emergence of Narendra Modi and (BJP President) Amit Shah on the scene. Modi and Shah were selling the promise of Hindu-rashtra under the garb of ‘achhe din’ which actually helps the BJP turn Hindu votes into a single more effective whole. “Although the Narendra Modi government does not have any visible achievement in its last three years, still people seemed to have voted for Modi. “In Modi, they see this hope of Hindu-rashtra which he is propagating as the ‘achche din’,” Adeeb said. Agreed Navaid Hamid, Chairman, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella body of several Muslim organisations. “We are moving towards a Hindu majoritarian democracy where nationalism is blended with Hindutva,” Hamid said

 

UP has taught the SP for its divisive bickering and self projection of son Yadav and its essentially anti-Muslim politics. People hate Congress party and punished Sp for opting to play politics by alliance with Congress. Son refused to distribute tickets to father’s candidates. Akhilesh misread the people’s minds. While Hindu votes got consolidated in favor of BJP, Muslim votes are badly divided and cast for different parties as per the instructions from their local leaders who, having got no committed and sincere leaders to promote the interests of poor Muslims, w operate as agents of parties controlled by Hindus. Narendra Modi‏’s assistants tweeted: ” I salute the hardwork of BJP Karyakartas. They have tirelessly worked hard at the grassroots level & won the confidence of the people”. That means work at grassroots and media management by which PM Modi’s campaign speeches were relayed directly and he dominated TV channel reports. Rahul or any other leader did not find similar space in media.

 

The BJP’s success in consolidating Hindu votes of various castes has rendered any division of Muslim votes redundant and helped Prime Minister Narendra Modi lead it to an unprecedented landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh, according to some Muslim leaders.

 

Nitish pointed out that the Congress-Samajwadi alliance was not successful in Uttar Pradesh like the grand alliance in Bihar. Congratulating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its splendid victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said the opposing parties ignored the fact that demonetisation gave satisfaction to the poor. Nitish pointed out that the Congress-Samajwadi alliance was not successful in Uttar Pradesh like the grand alliance in Bihar. He also stated that there was no need to oppose demonetisation in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls as the poor felt contentment that this move has hurt the rich. Nitish added that several parties ignored this fact.

Shiv Sena today attributed BJP’s big win of BJP in Uttar Pradesh to the “carrot” of loan waiver dangled to farmers by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of polls and said it was not a vote on demonetization. The ties between the two allies, who fought the recent civic elections in Maharashtra separately, have been strained and Sena has often needled the BJP and Modi. “The Uttar Pradesh mandate is because of the loan waiver promise made by Prime Minister Modi to farmers during his election campaigning. It is not a reflection of demonetization decision,” an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamna said today.

“The campaign in UP benefited BJP in neighbouring Uttarakhand. However, in Punjab, the BJP and Akalis bit the dust. It has even failed to win 15 seats in Goa, despite having a leader like Manohar Parrikar,” said the editorial. “Manipur too has not given a strong mandate to BJP.

 

Thus people not voting for the party in these states should be equally considered when UP elections are discussed,” it said. The editorial also invoked the issue of Ram temple in Ayodhya and wondered whether BJP would initiate its construction.

The editorial commented that Modi succeeded in polarization of votes by making “shamshan-kabristan” remarks and playing the Hindutva card during the UP campaign. “It would have been better, had he (Modi) played the cards of uniform civil code and Ram Mandir during the campaign,” said the editorial.

 

The editorial further stated that as compared to the leadership of Nitish Kumar in Bihar and Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, the “childish leadership” of Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi was rejected by the people of UP. “Yadavs and Dalits have voted for BJP to teach a lesson to Akhilesh Yadav. Modi and Amit Shah have played the social engineering arithmatic very well and that helped the party in winning big in UP elections,” said the editorial.

 

Manipur

 

By using ‘security issue” and using Sharmila as a serious threat to India, the BJP made a stunning debut in Manipur, winning 19 seats and leading in two of the 60 assembly seats in the states. The party’s concerted efforts to make inroads into the conflict state paid rich dividends.

 

BJP has very cleverly exploited anti-military feelings in Manipur state being represented by Irom Sharmila to expand its vote share in the Northeastern state. Thoubal constituency was among the first few seats from where the results started coming in. This valley seat from where Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh was contesting the elections had another key player who for 16 years was on fast for Manipur’s rights. Irom Sharmila Chanu aka ‘Iron Lady’ was the icon of Manipur who with her decade-and-a-half long fast against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (Afspa) garnered a lot of national. Sharmila’s party Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) failed to secure a single seat in the state and its leader lost the fight against Manipur’s three-time chief minister.

 

This was not a neck-and-neck defeat too. Sharmila lost so badly in her maiden election contest, that she vowed to quit politics altogether. In a constituency where Ibobi won with 18,649 votes, Sharmila didn’t get more than 90 votes. When the 44-year-old decided to quit her 16-year-old fast in 2016 and join politics, it was welcomed by both national media and political parties. She soon formed the PRJA which garnered support and attention from national parties like Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Left and Democratic Front (LDF), etc. The party with its clear intention to revoke Afspa (through legislative means) and redraft Inner Line Permit system set about campaigning through the state and gathering political funds. However, Sharmila was mostly treated as a laughing stock by the Manipuri chief minister.

 

On 11 March, Saturday, as the results for Manipur Elections started coming in, Thoubal constituency was among the first few seats from where the results started coming in. This valley seat from where Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh was contesting the elections, had another key player who for 16 years was on fast for Manipur’s rights. Irom Sharmila Chanu aka ‘Iron Lady’ was the icon of Manipur who with her decade-and-a-half long fast against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (Afspa) garnered a lot of national attention. But the story in this 60-Assembly seat state is very different. Sharmila’s party Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) failed to secure a single seat in the state and its leader lost the fight against Manipur’s three-time chief minister. This was not a neck-and-neck defeat too. Sharmila lost so badly in her maiden election contest, that she vowed to quit politics altogether. In a constituency where Ibobi won with 18,649 votes, Sharmila didn’t get more than 90 votes.

 

Many in the national media hailed this as a tragedy that an internationally renowned human rights activist couldn’t manage to secure even a 100 votes. However, the local populace has a different picture to share. When the 44-year-old decided to quit her 16-year-old fast in 2016 and join politics, it was welcomed by both national media and political parties. She soon formed the PRJA which garnered support and attention from national parties like Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Left and Democratic Front (LDF), etc. The party with its clear intention to revoke Afspa (through legislative means) and redraft Inner Line Permit system set about campaigning through the state and gathering political funds.

 

However, Sharmila was mostly treated as a laughing stock by both Congress and BJP and its chief minister, because victory for Sharmila can be disastrous for both parties. Military played important role in the defeat of her. When they all joint tempered with m voting machines remains to be investigated.

 

In a state that has some 1,500 cases of extra-judicial killings, she was the face of the revolt against Afspa. When she ended her fast, people perceived it as the end of the movement. This angered a lot of people. Her popularity also tanked after she revealed her plans to get married to Goa-born British national Desmond Coutinho, whom her supporters have always accused of diverting her attention from the fight against Afspa. She had plans to tie the nuptial knot after the 2017 polls but Desmond recently said the marriage would not take place before 2019. While the party has allied with the Nagaland People’s Front of the neighbouring state, it chose to not announce an alliance with the regional party in Manipur. The reason, a senior party leader said, is a clause in the NPF’s manifesto that talks of Naga integration. “That made the party a bit uncomfortable,” the party leader said. A post-poll alliance, however, is not ruled out, the leader added.

 

In a state hit badly by anti-incumbency against the ruling Congress government, the neglect that the various hill tribes suffered under Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s government helped the BJP make inroads in the hill areas. Of the 60 assembly seats, only 20 seats are set aside for the hill areas, while the Valley has 40 seats. While the hill areas account for 85% of the state’s geographical territory, the Valley accounts for 15% of the total area.

 

In a state which is rife with violence, corruption, administrative struggles, and development deficits, her fight seemed watered down. While the BJP gathered votes by making promises about removing the economic blockade, creation jobs, removing corruption, ensuring rights to the Nagas, etc. Sharmila kept mum on all these issues.

 

Sharmila, who has won several international human rights awards, said in her interview with HuffPost India that both the leading national parties — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress — were practically “the same”. However, this did not stop either of the two national parties — Congress or BJP — from using the funds in their deep pockets, to campaign extensively in the state. The state which rarely received any national attention (as pointed out by senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai in this tweet) was getting visited by senior leaders of the BJP like Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Narendra Modi, Prakash Javadekar, etc. Their rallies gathered thousands of Manipuris, whereas Sharmila’s PRJA went house to house to campaign for their party.

 

BJP didn’t just have a national appeal, it also went door-to-door to campaign about the party. They had swayamsevaks (volunteers) who regularly held meetings to discuss local issues, way before the elections were announced. The people in the hills (Naga districts like Senapati, Ukhrul, Tamenglong) saw an alternative to Congress, which with the creation of the seven new districts in December 2016, had lost the vote of the Naga tribes.

 

Sharmila decided to compete from a Meitei populated seat against a Meitei favourite Okram Ibobi and expected victory. In the interviews before the polling began, she reiterated that she hopes to win against the three-time chief minister. However, she forgot that the highly seasoned Congress politician had managed to snag the Thoubal constituency in two consecutive Assembly elections and that too with high margins. This time too he secured the seat with a margin of 11,470 votes against BJP leader Leitanthem Basanta Singh. Even the BJP didn’t put up a strong candidate for that seat. Sharmila’s misguided political judgment cost her a seat.

 

While we are being harsh on the celebrated human rights activists, it is a matter of concern that the state which has a million female voters failed to support their female icon. An abysmal 90 votes are what the ‘iron lady’ got for her 16-year penance.

 

Punjab

While the entire country was full of energy during the counting of votes, the social networking websites were as silent as a grave with the AAP leaders going silent on the election results. The Twitter account of most of the AAP leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal did not show any activity since the results started pouring in.

 

In the initial phase of counting, it became quite evident that the party scored zero in Goa while it backed 2nd position in Punjab. The exit polls had predicted that either Congress or AAP would win. Of the 117 seats, the Congress was leading on 64 seats. Whereas Shriomani Akali Dal (SAD)- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance which was written off by all political pundits and journalists before the elections, has sprung a surprise by becoming the second largest party in the state. They were leading on 28 seats by 10.45 am. Two years ago, AAP had scored a sensational victory in Delhi, decimating rivals BJP and Congress. It also debuted in parliament by winning four seats in Punjab in 2014 – the equivalent of 33 seats.

 

While the leaders were quite excited in the morning and tweeted motivational messages on Twitter before the results, their account became dull after the initial trend. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in the morning tweeted and gave best wishes to the party. There was no more reaction from the Deputy CM as well as the CM after the results. AAP leader Ashutosh tweeted in the morning saying the result will set the tone for the future politics in India. “It’s a historic day,” he tweeted. Kumar Vishwas was among the few AAP leaders who came out in open and spoke about the elections. The leader congratulated BJP and the Congress on their win. “Thanks to Aam Aadmi Party volunteers and candidates for fighting good elections. Accepting the defeat in his style, he also tweeted a poem. The AAP, which fought its first assembly elections in Punjab, was at third place with 22 seats.

 

AAP’s disappointment

Aam Admi party and its founder Arvind Kejriwal are very dear to Delhiites for the immense services they have done to Delhi even before the AAP came into being. Delhiites trust them and treat them as their own. However, that is not the case in other states where the AAP leaders have not served them. People of India hear a lot about AAP andits elaer but they have no firsthand experience with them and hence they have no trust of them. Only exception is Punjab where AAP miraculously won 4 MPs even while it could not get even one in Delhi as Kejriwal went all the way to UP to contest against PM Modi and lost there.

 

Goa did not elect any AAP candidate, their Punjab has elected many MLAs for the first time in the state assembly. Kejriwal is a romantic leader who thinks people just elect him for what he is. He refuses to tour the nation or appoint a national committee to spread the message of AAP. He behaves like Zamindar (rural lord) runs the party like a company and autocratically. he needs to change if AAP to take roots in the nation.

 

It is a disappointment because Delhi’s massive mandate raised the hopes of the people that AAP would emerge as a principle party at the national level. After that historic verdict, AAP had decided to contest elections in Punjab. We started focusing on the organisation and the idea was to consolidate the gains of the parliamentary elections of 2014 when the party had won four seats. At that time, the party had lost every seat outside Punjab, including in Delhi. As the party got to work in Punjab, it was enthused to see the energy and empathy for the party at the grassroot level. Soon enough the media also assumed that AAP could win more than 80 seats (of 117); the same was predicted by Huffington Post which said that AAP would be the new king of Punjab politics.

During the campaign, every analyst who visited Punjab vowed that AAP had a very strong presence. It was universally acclaimed that AAP had a massive wave in the Malwa region which commands more than half the seats in the state, though there were weaknesses in the Manjha and Doab areas. Three exit polls predicted an AAP victory; others claimed a photo finish between AAP and the Congress. Even this morning, TV channels asked me who would be AAP’s Chief Minister. One channel wanted to know if Arvind Kejriwal would go to Punjab and leave Delhi, which I denied in the strongest possible terms. But by 9.30 am, it was clear that AAP’s dream had ended and that the Congress had won. In fact there was a time when trends showed on TV that AAP was trailing even the Akali-BJP alliance at third position. But finally it is the Number Two Party.

 

AAP also contested Goa with high hopes, but could not open its account. In Goa, we believed that AAP might replace the Congress. So one can ask, what has gone wrong for the party? Was it a bubble? Or is AAP just a one-state party? I know analysts will be ruthless in their assessment about AAP. Criticism is most welcome. But I want to say with all the humbleness at my command that AAP is here to stay in Indian politics. Those who think that AAP’s future is bleak are going to be proven wrong again.

This is not the first time that AAP has suffered a rather humiliating defeat. After the 2014 parliamentary elections, AAP was carpet-bombed with criticism. It contested more than 400 seats, but could win only 4. But it bounced back with a thundering margin in the Delhi election and re-wrote electoral politics. AAP won with a historic mandate. It was nothing less than a revolution because it humbled two very powerful political parties who had a wealth of experience in fighting innumerable elections.

The silver lining for AAP in these elections is that it today is the main opposition party in Punjab which is no mean achievement. Let’s not forget the fact that AAP is only a four-year-old party. And it was fighting assembly elections in this state for the first time. For a first-timer, it is a great beginning. Many political parties took years and many elections to achieve what AAP has accomplished in its first attempt. In four years’ time, AAP has a government in one state, which is doing path-breaking work in the areas of education, health and drinking water; AAP has set the benchmark in honest and transparent governance in Delhi and now in another state, it is in the opposition.

No other regional party has this distinction. Other parties except the BJP and the Congress can’t boast of a formidable presence in more than one state, the state of their dominance. In that way, AAP is better off even in defeat than the Samajawadi Party, the BSP, Shiv Sena, the Trinmool Congress, the DMK, the AIADMK, the BJD, NCP etc. Punjab elections have proved that AAP has the potential for a bigger political outpost. AAP’s opponents shouldn’t commit the mistake of taking it lightly. Despite this loss, I can say that AAP has tremendous goodwill in other states also. Arvind Kejriwal addressed big rallies in MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, UP, Jharkhand in the month of December, just after the announcement of demonetization by the Prime Minister Modi. The response was very encouraging. The lesson for the party is to work hard to build the organisation, convert sympathy among people into votes. It has to build a cadre and keep the morale of the organisation up which is another challenge for the party.

But AAP’s contribution should be seen from a different angle too. AAP has demystified the fact that elections can be fought only on the strength of money and muscle power, and only traditional political players can contest and win elections. AAP has shown the path in Delhi, and in Punjab too, that clean candidates with honest money can also contest, win and become the member of the legislature. AAP candidates did not distribute money and liquor to bribe voters and yet they came out victorious. It’s a huge leap in Indian politics.

In the end I want to gently remind us all that in 1984, the BJP could win only two seats. It was also pronounced dead and buried. Today, the BJP has replaced the Congress and it is the most dominant political force. There is more to come from AAP. The big takeaway from the assembly poll outcome in Uttar Pradesh (as the results so far suggest), is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cleared his big political test on demonetisation—one of the key factors in this round of polls—in grand style. Not only did the massively disruptive economic policy and opposition’s primary weapon against BJP fail to impact Modi’s charisma among voters in the state, but it even seemed to aid party’s fortunes.

 

If demonetization is ‘no problem’ for Modi in UP, a state where informal sector plays a dominant role, demonetization is not likely to cause troubles for the party elsewhere in future. This is a personal victory for Modi who has thrown himself hard in to the UP’s poll battle scene, especially in the last leg of the campaign and tells an observer that people have ignored the demonetization pain.

 

Narendra Modi- Man of (fixed) match

It is now crystal clear Narendra Modi has only gained on his political capital after the 8 November televised announcement to scrap Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes. As the trends seen in various surveys and certain civic poll results suggested, the PM continued to enjoy ground support of people in the immediate months post the note ban despite heavy criticism from many economists and political rivals on the move.

 

Though the outcomes of local body polls and surveys suggested continuation of Modi wave post demonetisation, the UP polls, arguably, was the first major test for him. And the outcome would have surprised even the most optimistic supporter of the BJP. More importantly, these numbers will silent his rivals, who have been projecting the ‘disastrous effects’ of demonetisation on all walks of life and larger economy. This will give a psychological upper hand for the government in Parliament to face the opposition on crucial reform process.

 

UP poll outcome is even more surprising given that this one state that is heavily dependent on informal sector and has had adverse impacts of demonetisation in the form of job losses especially in regions like Varanasi. But, all these negatives failed to stand between Modi and his big victory in the state.

 

If one looks at the economy as a whole, the impact of demonetisation has played out much more in the informal sector, not in India’s organised formal sector. This is because informal economy is where cash is the king. About 40-45 per cent of Indian economy is estimated to be in the informal sector, which also contributes almost 80 percent of the total employment.

 

According to certain estimates, 78 percent of transactions in the economy are conducted in cash. But since segment is poorly captured in official data, the impact here never showed up in the GDP numbers. This is the reason why the 7 per cent October-December quarter GDP figure was seen with suspicion. The flaws in the way noteban was implemented, prompted even former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to use phrases such as ‘mammoth tragedy’ and ‘organised loot, legalized plunder’ to describe Modi’s drastic move. Almost all of his political rivals used demonetisation as a tool to attack Modi since the day the drive was launched.

 

But all the confusion and lack of correlation in numbers and statistics have obviously did not have any impact on people’s sentiment on the ground, so is the absence of tangible results on the stated goals of the exercise so far. The evidence of big victory over black money and fake currencies is yet to emerge and the shift to digital payments—another objective of demonetisation—still hasn’t taken a firm hold. But, none of these factors have worked against Modi. The voters have judged demonetisation as a big political step on those in the society having possession of ill-gotten wealth, a long pending political step. The economics of the move never really mattered. For them, Modi is the leader who finally made the change happen, precisely how he sold the idea of note ban to 125 crore Indians. In this fight of economics Vs Politics, politics have clearly won.

 

The UP poll outcome practically ends the debate on the impact of demonetisation on Modi’s political fortunes. Let’s remember that demonetisation, besides being a bold, unprecedented economic policy, also carried significant weight as a big strategic move for Modi, for whom fight against black money has always been at the top of his poll agenda since 2014. Thus, to sum up, PM Modi has passed his first big demonetisation test in style, silencing his political rivals and proving decisively that Modi wave has negated the demonetisation card flashed by his political rivals all along.

 

Fresh from BJP’s landslide win in UP and Uttarakhand after a bitter and often divisive campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about inclusivity and pitched for building a ‘new India’ by 2022 that would have made the nation’s founding fathers proud. Accepting felicitations from party leaders and supporters at BJP headquarters, Modi said he saw the election results, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, as the “foundation of the new India”. “I see this victory as the foundation of a new India where 65 per cent of the population will be of young people below 35 years of age… a new India of unprecedently vigilant women. “A new India where the poor do not want anything by way of charity, but seek opportunity to chart out their own course. I see this change happening,” he told the gathering which lapped up every word he said, amid repeated chants of ‘Modi! Modi! Modi!’ Earlier in the day, Modi tweeted, “India is emerging, which is being powered by the strength & skills of 125 crore Indians.

This India stands for development.” Modi, whose ‘crematorium and graveyard’ remark at an election rally in UP was seen as intended to polarize voters along communal lines, in a statement on his website Narendramodi.in said,” India is transforming, powered by the strength of each and every citizen of India. “An India that is driven by innovation, hard work and creativity; an India characterized by peace, unity and brotherhood; and an India free from corruption, terrorism, black money and dirt.” The theme of development ran through his felicitation speech too. “Beyond the emotive issues, political parties fought shy of going to elections on the issue of development. Development is a difficult subject. In these elections, there was a lack of emotive issues, but the huge voter turnout after the campaign based on development shows the transition that his happening towards creation of a new India,” he said.

The poor have voted in large numbers on the topic of development, he said. Modi, who was accused by his rivals of playing caste and religion politics during the campaign, said the BJP-led dispensation will will take everybody along as “in democracy governments are formed with a majority but run with consensus”. Noting that the government has no right to discriminate against anybody, Modi said, “This government is of those who have voted for it and also those who have not. Of those, who have walked along, and also of those who have not.” “Everybody will join in the making of a new India,” he said.

After a bitter political battle that went on for months between rival political parties, the Congress has emerged as the single largest party in the Punjab Assembly election that concluded on Saturday. Captain Amarinder Singh led Congress to a successful campaigning in Punjab, securing 77 seats, nearly a two-third majority.

 

The agrarian state witnessed a big shake-up, throwing the ruling SAD-BJP alliance out of power. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had made a big pre-poll buzz, came in second place with 20 seats.

The popular mandate was with Congress, as the party received 38.5 percent (59,24,995) votes in the election followed by SAD at 25.3 percent (38,98,161) while AAP came third in terms of votes polled at 23.8 percent (36,59,266). BJP received 5.3 percent (8,19,927) votes. There were 1,145 candidates in the fray with all the top-three contenders — Congress, SAD-BJP and AAP — fielding 117 candidates. While both Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal of SAD retained their seats at Lambi and Jalalabad respectively, the party along with its alliance partner BJP was completely washed out in the election. It was pushed to third position with just 18 seats behind AAP which won 20 seats. Congress’ chief ministerial candidate Captain Amarinder Singh won from Patiala. Even though he lost Lambi to Parkash Singh Badal, he has much to be happy about.

 

Congress also saw several of its candidates performing well in the election, including former SAD leader Manpreet Singh Badal (estranged nephew of Parkash Singh Badal) from Bathinda Urban and cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu who joined Congress right before the election and won Amritsar East.

As for AAP, it has seen an underwhelming performance with some key candidates like Bhagwant Mann trailing behind Sukhbir Singh Badal. Unlike the exit poll predictions and claims made by the party, AAP has managed to win only 14 seats so far and is leading in just nine seats.

 

Several journalists and election-watchers have already started predicting victories based on their ideologies. These predictions are no better than straw polls or gut feel. There are, however, a few clear trends that have emerged in the elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and to a lesser extent, in Goa.

 

The media — broadcast television, at least — prefers to lump in every bit of coverage based on what the president or leaders of political parties are saying at various rallies. Their cameras pan over huge crowds and they capture the choicest sound bites from the speeches. This is their way of covering elections — crowds and stars, but it gives very little insight to the voters. The voters cannot seek any fresh information from the English language dailies either as they are also obsessed with leaders. Only Indian language dailies go into the details of each candidate at the constituency-level. The debate and discussion is at candidate-level and not about the parties. While political parties will try to create or build a wave of momentum, it is not happening across the state.

The nuance that is lost is that this time around in Uttar Pradesh particularly, there has been a cross-fertilization of candidates from the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). There are at least 38 former or current MLAs from the BSP who are fighting on a BJP ticket. There are 14 such former or current Congress MLAs again fighting on BJP tickets, in addition to eight from the Samajwadi Party and seven from the Rashtriya Lok Dal. In all, there are 75 constituencies where tickets have been given to a person who did not contest the elections on a BJP ticket in the past. The rationale for handing out these tickets is that these candidates have a higher chance of winning as they have won this seat earlier. This is ostensibly based on a series of four surveys conducted by the BJP in every constituency. Some of these surveys were carried out by RSS functionary in the areas.

 

The selection of candidates differs in major parties. Congress depends upon the wisdom of its senior leadership more than any other party as it has poor network on the ground. Due to recent fissures, the Samajwadi Party depended on the cohort or caucus around Akhilesh Yadav and older members of the party were not engaged. In the BSP, it is the decision of Mayawati, who is ably supported by a team and has the largest number of Muslim candidates in the fray, that counts.

 

Noise from the leadership has to be distinguished from the voice on the ground. This is where the management at the booth-level comes to the fore.

 

The successive rise in the voting percent in all the phases suggest that people have come out to vote and this may well turn out to be the biggest election in terms of votes cast and total electorate. This is crucial as the data in past elections has always shown that the winning party can sweep the elections with a margin of four to five percent of the votes. In the last election, the Samajwadi Party won 224 seats with a vote share of 29.15 percent, while the BSP got 80 seats with a vote share of 25.91 percent. A difference of 3.36 percent between the first and second party made a difference of 144 seats. This was at a time when the BJP got 47 seats with a 15 percent vote share and the Congress got 27 seats with a vote share of 11.63 percent.

 

The trend that is clear at this stage is that there is an anti-incumbency factor at work against the Samajwadi Party, while its alliance partner, the Congress is hobbled by the lack of a ground network. The BJP seems to be party that every other party is fighting against. It is the BJP at one end and the strongest candidate from one of the other parties on the other end. This is the reason people have begun predicting a victory for BJP in the state. As I said earlier, if the top two rungs are defined, 50 to 60 percent share of the votes is divided among the two top candidates with low margins of difference; statistical models cannot predict such polls. This trend is also clear that both SP and BSP are attacking BJP and not each other, their leadership knows intuitively that it is not a tripartite fight.

 

Another facet of this election is the failure of predictive models. Most statistical models rely on a sample and can have a margin of error ranging from 95 to 99 percent in a state like Uttar Pradesh, where the victory margins are usually three to four percent. The margin of error is more than victory margin, making the result difficult to predict. Hence, better predictive models will have to be created covering every constituency, all 403 of them. And this is something no one, except the political parties, appear to have the resources to do. The only models that will work in such an environment are those that will assume a swing for or against BJP constituency-wise. This is because all the other parties seem to be fighting the BJP.

 

If the BJP is already part of the top-two of the decision matrix of voters, it will get a higher voter share than it did last time, when it was third in the decision matrix. This is something that the voters on the ground also grasp intuitively as they do not want to waste their vote. A voter always wants to claim that he/she gave his vote to the winning candidate.

 

Observations

UP poll clearly reveal the hidden agenda of all big political outfits working against Muslims, Islam and Babri Mosque. Like Indian state, political regime and intelligence-military apparatus, corporate media, every national party with military links target Muslims and Islam. Now they want to somehow force the Supreme Court to deny Muslims the right to worship inside their historic Babri Mosque when it is rebuilt by the state.

 

In the absence of honest political parties in India where politicians do business in politics to make wealth by immoral and illegal w means icnding illegal mining, forced bribery, etc , to serve the people with dedication, Indians are being repeatedly forced to drink Hindutva poison as medicine. BJP leaders are becoming increasingly fate by cheating the public with false gimmicks. While it wants Muslims to vote for Hindus, the BJP-RSS duo does not want Hindus to vote for Muslims candidates and hence decided not to field any Muslim candidates so that there not many Muslim MLAs to support the Babri Mosque issue.

These elections must be evaluated as people have voted heavily despite the absence of any emotional issue.

All Congress efforts to get government back UP by alliance with SP have failed again. Breaking all previous records, the BJP bagged two-third majority in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

 

RSS-BJP media strategy is amazing. Poll strategy and networking electioneering helped them. It is for the first time in the 16-year history of Uttarakhand that a party has emerged with an impressive tally like this. PM Modi’s image has been packaged systematically with a lot of home work and no other leader could emerge an equal or at least a strong leader to appeal to masses of their sincere intent. Unlike Congress, SP, BSP, etc, PM Modi does not need money to be given to his family members

 

Muslims have been strong contingent of vote bank for the continued success of Congress and SP, etc. After along time of sustained bitter experience of betrayal by Congress party, Muslims have now stopped promoting that party both at national and regional levels. Now Muslims know Congress and BJP have got a common anti-Muslim agenda. Now SP has also proved to anti-Muslim party as it played a big drama of fight and split only to deny Muslims opportunity to represent Muslim community in the UP assembly. BJP wants the hon. Supreme Court of deliver an RSS judgment to appease Hindutva forces including the Congress and SP. May be the Modi regime has already submitted the judgment for the Supreme Court to deliver as its own. That is the RSS agenda.

 

Like fanatic Hindus many Muslims also wants only India to win fake cricket matches with many batboys enjoying 100s, and 200s etc. So, the Indian reigme consider Muslims as supporters’ gimmicks of Hindutva. These Muslims obviously betray their religious faith by indulging in corrupt, gambling.

 

There is no strong ground for father – son duo to fight over no real issues. It appears SP whose leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, former defence minister, was forced by military and Congress party to lose the elections in UP in favor of BJP which can then deal with Babri Mosque as it would decide and could use the Supreme Court to get final judgment in its favor. This is clearly a continuation of Congress-BJP conspiracy against Babri Mosque and Muslims now being supported by Mulayam of SP. Hence BJP has won in historic manner.

Father and former CM and defence minister of India, Mulayam Yadav defended his son Yadav and the outgoing CM of UP, saying that his alone cannot be blamed for the historic poll defeat as all are possible for this. Mulayam has played mischief and betrayed the Muslims who voted almost entirely for the SP last time. He joined the Congress and BJP to protect the Hindu criminal who pulled down historic Babri Mosque. The father – son fight was an eye wash to divide the party votes so that BJP wins maximum seats to support the RSS-BJP criminals.

The secret nexus between Congress and BJP in their targeting Muslim populations in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, is well known. Congress is responsible for the arrival and thriving of communally inflammable RSS and its umbrella parties like BJP. Congress party, fallen so badly in the eyes of public, has just one program: not about people of India but to make Rahul Gandhi acceptable to the people of India. That has not at all worked .Strenuous efforts by the Congress party to get Rahul Gandhi accepted by Indians as their top leader have failed because people no longer trust the party and its leaders who are corrupt.

 

Many Congress leaders and CMs, like bowlers congratulate the batboys whom they offered 100s and 200s, etc,  have congratulated PM Modi on his personal charismatic success in UP, possibly expressing indirectly their desire to cross the floor to the known saffron flag. After all, there is hardly any difference between the town Hindu parties.

 

Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi have sufficiently weakened the Congress party and blocked its efforts to come back to power and the anti-corruption movement has struck with people’s imagination to know how tall frauds are Congress leaders. . In order to keep the Congress out of power, people opt for BJP though they are pro-Hindutva.

 

Apparently, the results of two states, UP and Manipur have been tempered, manipulated and pre-conceived by Congress, BJP and other anti-Muslim and arrogance policy dealers. If a re-poll is held in these states, truth about the poll would come out.

 

Today is indeed a setback for honest and innovative politics, but to write an obit of AAP will be reading the results the wrong way. I must admit that AAP’s performance is a huge disappointment for our supporters and well-wishers, especially in Punjab, where the party was expected to form the government with an absolute majority. But we are far from that, while the Congress has crossed the magic figure of 58 seats and is all set to take charge of the state. AAP has emerged as the main opposition party in the assembly.

India will ramp up spending on rural areas, infrastructure and fighting poverty, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says as he unveils his annual budget, adding the impact on growth from the government’s cash crackdown would wear off soon.

Perhaps the regional polls 2017 is just a quarter finals and with proper match fixings, next round of polls w at semifinal would signal the possible scene of next parliamentary poll.

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