WHY BJP SHOULD READ THE ASSAM VERDICT WITH CAUTION?

Today was a day when BJP, the ruling national party, the chief group of the National Democratic Alliance, got another feather in its cap – towards its aspirations to become a true pan-India political party.

BJP, more than comfortably, won Assam, and got a fantastic headway into the North-East of the country – that has otherwise been the forte of Indian National Congress and regional political parties like Naga People’s Front, Sikkim Democratic Front, Mizo National Front or CPI(M) in Tripura.

And with it, the largest political party of the country, in terms of members, in terms of MLAs (in the state legislative assemblies), and in terms of MPs (in the parliament), effectively answered to the observations that it was trying to get a backdoor entry in India’s North-East by uprooting a democratically elected Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh. Arunachal Pradesh has a different government now – comprised of Congress rebels and supported by BJP.

But the verdict has its own cautionary tales.

BJP’s vote share has come significantly in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. The party, in spite of putting intense efforts, saw its vote share down to 10% from 17% in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Tamil Nadu was the same story where it came below 3% – from almost 6% in 2014.

And BJP’s good show in Assam is going to have a flip-side.

The anti-BJP faction is going to consolidate. When Nitish Kumar said the outcomes were not unexpected given anti-BJP parties failed to stitch an alliance together in Assam, like it was done in Bihar, it was a clear signal of the things to come.

And BJP should read it in the context of the fact that the party is going to lose Uttar Pradesh and Punjab polls the next year. What is left to be seen is the scale of BJP’s loss.

So, for BJP, it is time for some introspection based realpolitik.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

A RAINY D-DAY: WOULD AMMA EMERGE A ‘BAAHUBALI’?

It was just six months ago when J Jayalalithaa, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, miserably failed in addressing the destructive rains and floods that wreaked havoc in many parts of the state including Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai.

Though Tamil Nadu was not the only South Indian state to face the rain aftermath then, with Andhra Pradesh also badly affected, the real worry was in Tamil Nadu – where Chennai saw the worst rainfall and flooding in 100 years. And the situation was not much different in many other parts.

To the scale that even Jayalalithaa’s ‘Baahubali’ avatar couldn’t save the state – even if Amma, as Jayalalithaa is affectionately called, tried hard to do – with her larger than life presence – on hoardings, on banners, on posters, on every sort of relief material including the food items.

‘Baahubali’ that translates to ‘muscleman or strongman’ is one of the most successful movies produced by the Indian film industry last year.

Last November-December, when Tamil Nadu was reeling under the miles high devastation of the flood aftermath, Jayalalithaa’s huge Baahubali hoardings cropped up, showing an all powerful Amma carrying a baby away from the horrors of the rain.

No need to say that was in bad taste – and attracted every sort of criticism and satire.

But that could not dim the prospects of a South Indian politics obsessed with film stars and personality cults.

Jayalalithaa has continued with her mission to make Tamil Nadu ‘Amma Nadu’, a state synonymous with her nickname. There are Amma baby kits. There are Amma canteens. A bottled water is brand named Amma. The list is long – Amma salt, Amma seeds, Amma pharmacies, Amma home appliances, even Amma cement and laptop – and this list is not exhaustive.

The way it has spread in Tamil Nadu in the last five years makes one feel that Jayalalithaa is going to rule Tamil Nadu for a long time, breaking the trend of consistent power transfer in the state, from AIADMK to DMK and vice versa, in subsequent elections.

We all felt so.

Many of us still feel so, even if there is a group that feels DMK has now fair chances to defeat Amma. Even some exit polls say so. If that indeed happens, the mishandling of the last year floods would be a major cause in this.

Tomorrow is the D Day when the results would be out.

And Tamil Nadu is again staring at massive rains. In fact, according to reports, Chennai received maximum rainfall in a day since 1995. Then there is a cyclone alert for Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and senior and junior level officials have been deployed to handle the aftermath.

But the million dollar question is – would voters give Amma another chance to ‘do or undo’ what she had done during the floods last year?

Another way to look at that is – if Amma wins the polls tomorrow – it would say Amma’s Baahubali act indeed established a connect with her supporters.

And that would further hasten the ‘Amma-fication’ of Tamil Nadu.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

CAN BJP GET WHAT IT GOT IN MAY 2014?

It was again a thoughtful selection by the folks working in Facebook backrooms or some algorithm working on my account this morning, if I can say so, about picking up one of my memories that I chose to scribble on my Facebook wall some time ago.

Yesterday, it was about what I had written on counting trends – on May 16, 2014 – the counting day – the counting day of the General Elections in 2014 – that BJP won comfortably (an unexpectedly, because a victory was in the air, but not with complete majority).

On a day when the 2016 assembly elections got over – on May 16, 2016 – with counting slated for May 19!

Today, it was again on a related issue – on the electoral behavior of Muslim voters.

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That was in 2014 – the year of the Narendra Modi wave. Two years later, the first real test is here.

The Narendra Modi wave is certainly in reels now. Even BJP has finally accepted this.

Muslims are even more polarized against BJP now. All the analytic opinions point to just one thing – that defeating BJP has become the primary objective of Muslim voters – and the miserable performance of Asaduddin Owaisi led AIMIM in Bihar polls is being seen as a testimony to that.

Two factors that were attributed to the massive victory BJP got in 2014 are not going to work for BJP here – because assembly polls are localized, and affected more readily by caste and local issues – and because of the rush of fringe voices ever since the BJP government came to the office.

The question is – can BJP achieve the Hindu vote polarization of 2014 – at least in Assam – the only state in this round of polls where BJP has some chance? Can the luck smile on it in other states, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, especially in West Bengal and Kerala, states with sizeable Muslim population.

Certainly not!

And the question is – can BJP see a fractured Muslim vote again – like it happened in 2014 – helping the party electorally – something that it is hoping for in a state like Assam? –

Probably not!

Let’s see what happens on May 19, 2016.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MAY AGAIN IS GOING TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT MONTH IN INDIAN POLITICS..

Politically, May 16 may not be the biggest day this year in India’s socio-political landscape, like it was in 2014, but it started the race to gear up for what lies ahead – on May 19 – when counting for assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and West Bengal takes place.

Whatever it comes out to be, it will write a defining chapter in India’s politics because the nation would directly face the most important assembly polls from here – in Uttar Pradesh – that would, in turn, write the script of the electoral politics on display in 2019 parliamentary elections.

When I glanced at the my Facebook page today, I found what I had scribbled then. That was the day of counting of the world’s biggest democratic elections. Exit polls were in and the real-time trends had started telling the picture that would emerge finally.

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Exit polls have set the ball rolling for May 19 with conclusion of single phase polling in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry today. There are valid reasons on why or why not the exit poll results may fail. The analyses, the predictions, the projections, they will find their final edge on May 19 and it should be all clear by noon.

May 16 and May 19 may be two years and two days apart, but May again is going to be the most important month in Indian politics.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FIVE STATE ASSEMBLY POLLS: THE COUNTING DAY TAKEAWAYS

THE COUNTING DAY – it’s the D-Day of the last round of the electoral politics in India before the political slugfest for the grand theatre of the Indian electoral panorama, the General Elections of 2014, begins.

And it is coming on the expected calculations. (Counting for Mizoram is tomorrow.)

It is just matter of time to say if it is 4-0 for BJP or 2-0 for BJP (taking Delhi and Rajasthan from Congress) or 3-0 for BJP (let’s save the comment for final figures on Chhattisgarh) and vice versa – 0-2 or 0-1 for Congress.

And as expected, the debate on Narendra Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi is on, relentlessly.

Congress’ decimation in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi puts Rahul Gandhi squarely in the line of fire but the neck to neck fight in Chhattisgarh gives some saving grace to talk about, the much needed help to the most miserable of the Congress lot today – the party spokespersons – facing a herculean task – they have to accept the defeat while not sounding defeated – they have to defend the rout thus – and they have to defend Rahul Gandhi and the Rahul Gandhi factor.

Likewise, the emergence on AAP in Delhi and the neck to neck fight in Chhattisgarh is not allowing the BJP leaders to go over the top in extolling the Narendra Modi factor.

And thankfully, the trends by now are making the case for #AAP – even if the party cannot form the government in Delhi, the huge gains in the national Capital of India are positively unprecedented – so heartily welcomed it is.

And the most hard-hitting of all this is Arvind Kejriwal defeating Sheila Dikshit, the three-term chief incumbent chief minister, from the New Delhi assembly constituency, considered a Sheila Dikshit stronghold.

As the trends say while writing this, if Arvind Kejriwal succeeds in winning the New Delhi assembly constituency from Sheila Dikshit, it will still be symbolically potent enough to tell the political class that it is the time to change.

If a powerful and perceivably popular chief minister loses to an entrant politician, it should be a message bold enough to warn the existing league of political babudom.

The strength of the Symbolism of the ‘politics of change’ must spread.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/