WHAT BYPOLL RESULTS TELL US ABOUT DEMONETIZATION?

If we go by the results of the bye-elections announced yesterday, we get it straight – that demonetization is just a political issue which has not those social contours as is being projected by its opponents.

Bye-elections were held in four parliamentary constituencies and ten assembly constituencies spread across six states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Tripura – and in the union territory Puducherry.

Going by the charges that the political opposition is levelling against the NDA government led by prime minister Narendra Modi, there could have been just one possible outcome of these bye-elections – the BJP facing a humiliating electoral loss.

But that didn’t happen.

The results announced show the public has gone ahead with the status quo prevailing – and going by the geographical spread – Assam (Northeast), Arunachal Pradesh (Northeast), Madhya Pradesh (Central), West Bengal (East), Tamil Nadu (South), Tripura (Northeast) and Puducherry (South) – certainly a wide cross-section of the country – we can say it is not a localized reaction of a certain pocket.

The BJP, in fact, has fared well, and at cost of those who are vehemently opposing the demonetization move – like Congress or the Left front.

The BJP won parliamentary and assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh comfortably, came second in the Coochbehar PC in West Bengal and came second in one seat in Tripura. That shows demonetization didn’t work against the BJP even if the bypolls were held 10 days after the sudden policy change announced by Narendra Modi on November 10.

What can we read into it? Are all the stories of people thronging banks and ATMs day in, day out and in night and people dying in queues are nothing?

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

BYPOLLS SETBACK TO BJP: THE FLAVOUR OF THE POLITICAL BUZZ

It is the season of assembly elections. Maharashtra and Haryana elections are due in October and Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir should be held by the end of this year and so, the flavour of the talk of the season are the results of the bye-elections held in the assembly constituencies.

And the results pinching the winning party of the Lok Sabha elections have added spice to the flavour of the political buzz and debates with an amplified crescendo. Anyway, the outcomes of the Lok Sabha bye-elections were on the expected lines and so there was not much to talk about.

The pointing point while writing this is, the BJP is feeling the heat, after a great reversal in its electoral fortunes in most of the assembly constituencies where elections were held.

And from the viewpoint of the political communication machinery, such ‘buzz-worthy’ outcomes, when the bigger assembly elections are just around the corner, are frustrating for the party-workers, but are the moral-boosters for the political opponents, and can become big enough a factor if played well on the electoral sentiments focusing on the impulsive reactions of the voter.

And that should worry the BJP strategists, even if they don’t admit it publicly.

BJP’s national president Amit Shah today advised his party workers to not get demoralized with the bye-election results yesterday (or to say, in the past that is being counted after May 16, 2014 when the Lok Sabha election results were announced), the past that includes bye-election defeats in the July 21 bypolls in Uttarakhand (3 assembly constituencies-ACs) and in the August 21 bypolls in Bihar (10 ACs), Madhya Pradesh (3 ACs), Karnataka (3 ACs) and Punjab (2 ACs).

The BJP could not win any seat in Uttarakhand. The results of the August 21 bye-elections, held for 18 assembly constituencies spread across Bihar Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab were an unacceptable 8-18 for the BJP. And here, the BJP lost its face in Bihar.

In the September 13 bye-elections, the results of which were declared yesterday (except Antagarh in Chhattisgarh where the counting will be held on September 20), the BJP and its allies had 25 out of the 32 assembly constituencies for which the counting was held today. The BJP alone had 24 of the 33 seats including Antagarh.

But it could win just 12 of 32. With allies, the total was 13, with TDP’s Nandigama win in Andhra Pradesh.

The BJP had all of 11 seats (one with ally Apna Dal) in Uttar Pradesh where the bye-elections were held. It registered an impressive performance in all these assembly segments in the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was winner in 10.

But in the September 13 bye-elections, it lost 8. More importantly, the loss includes Uma Bharti’s constituency Charkhari that she vacated after winning the Jhansi Lok Sabha seat, and Rohaniya in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency. The seat was held by Apna Dal. Interestingly, Modi had got around 1.20 Lakh votes from this assembly segment in the Lok Sabha election.

In Gujarat, Modi’s home state and his comfortable political turf since 2000, though the BJP won 6 out of 9 constituencies, in fact, the BJP lost 3 seats to Congress as these 9 seats were won by the party in 2012 assembly elections as well as in 2014 Parliamentary Elections.

In Rajasthan, the party lost 3 of the 4 seats. BJP had won all 4 seats in the previous polls.

And the BJP had performed exceedingly well in these states just four months ago.

Overall, the BJP and its allies went down from 25-7 out of 32 to 13-19 yesterday, after the 8-18 tally in August bye-elections, within four months of an unprecedented victory and overwhelming support to the Modi Factor.

It is another warning call, especially before the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana the next month.

The loss is huge, symbolically and electorally. The victory on a seat in West Bengal and on one in Assam, state assemblies where it opened its accounts independently for the first time, are not going to be of much help except being the consolation prizes.

These are unsettling developments and the BJP strategists need to act like they are really worried. Amit Shah’s advice could have emerged from such a thinking over it. But mere advising will not help, given the factors that led to the BJP this debacle in just four months after an unprecedented, almost miraculous victory. The factors include the ‘pride’ of a big win and the subsequent big brother attitude and the resultant tension with allies, complacency, excessive dependence on the Modi Factor even if the elections are to be fought along the local fault-lines, infighting and the lack of focus on the context of the elections.

These are high talking points and have the potential to generate the buzz in a matter of days that could effectively dent the chances. And it has begun, the bye-elections results show it, even if it has nothing to do with Narendra Modi, his government and the Modi Factor.

And if left to continue, it will ultimately dampen the Modi Factor and will dent his political legacy that has just begun to take shape at the national level.

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

INSTANT TAKEAWAYS FROM SEPTEMBER 13 BYPOLL RESULTS

The BJP and its allies had 25 out of the 32 assembly constituencies for which the counting was held today.

From 25-7 out of 32 (counting of votes for the Antagarh assembly constituency bye-election in Chhattisgarh will be held on September 20) to 13-19 today, after the 8-18 tally in August bye-elections, within four months of an unprecedented victory and overwhelming support to the Modi Factor, it is another wakeup call, and the warning signals are speaking aloud, especially before the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana the next month.

And it instantly set in motion the expected developments.

— The political opposition is an enlightened lot while the Bhartiya Janata Party spokespersons are on defensive.

— The political opposition will react for sometime as if the who BJP win has been undone.

— The secular Vs communal is the flare of the day.

— With it, ‘Modi Wave’ waning or dented is one of the main headlines.

— The allies on the backfoot of seat-sharing talks before the upcoming elections are even more on upswing after another shot. Remember Uddhav Thakeray had hit back immediately on the BJP’s big brother attitude after its poor show in August 21 bye-elections.

— Talks of uniting the anti-BJP front are getting renewed impetus, especially after Bahujan Samaj Party’s absence proving to be a major factor behind the BJP humiliation in Uttar Pradesh.

— Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family will be stronger by one more member in the Indian Parliament.

— Though Rohaniya assembly constituency in Varanasi, Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, has never been a BJP stronghold, its ally Apna Dal’s loss here will be discussed as such linking it with Modi’s debacle in his constituency that he is working to develop as a world class heritage city. Here what goes against Modi in such discussions is Modi had got around 1.20 Lakh votes from this assembly segment in Lok Sabha election this year while the Apna Dal candidate lost it this time by a margin of around 15000 votes and could secure only around 60,000 votes.

— Some satirical takes/political cartoons on Amit Shah, the BJP President, crowned after BJP’s brilliant show in Uttar Pradesh that he managed, will be put in planning, especially after the poll drubbings in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar bye-elections within four months of the epic show in these two states counting for 120 parliamentary constituencies.

So, be ready with the alignments and their day-specific consequences.

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

SEPTEMBER 13 BYPOLL RESULTS: ANOTHER SETBACK FOR BJP AND NARENDRA MODI

Narendra Modi is in Delhi while writing this but he would be heading to the state he comes from this evening to receive the Chinese President Xi Jinping who is arriving in Ahmedabad tomorrow.

It is after Hu Jintao’s 2006 visit that a Chinese President is visiting India for bilateral talks and the stage has been set in a way to tap some lucrative business deals running in billions of US$, and in spite of all the border skirmishes, the strategists and the communication people are painting up a rosy picture advocating soft approach to the controversial issues as of now. China is eyeing the Indian infrastructure market having potential worth trillions of US$ in the long run. India would also like to tap the Chinese market with increased depth. An increasing financial focus to the bilateral ties has the potential to change many factors for positive outcomes.

And so, there are the expectations of a growing thaw after the Summit is over. And so, the economy of bonhomie has set the table so far, as far as the latest round of India-China diplomacy is concerned. And so, there is a sense of positivity in the government circles, adding to the sentiments on ‘initiatives to deliver the promises made by Narendra Modi’.

But Narendra Modi would certainly be having mixed feelings now, even if he has emerged as a strong prime minister, after the second consecutive electoral drubbing in the bye-elections in less than a month. It is not just in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, where Bhartiya Janata Party performed exceedingly well, that it is facing a situation to look for face-saver and inept excuses, it is also in Gujarat, the state that Narendra Modi ruled effectively since 2000.

In Gujarat, while writing this, though the trends changed to give the BJP a clear edge with the party leading in 6 seats out of 9 the bye-elections were held for, the initial trends showed Congress giving a neck-to-neck fight with leading in almost equal number of seats. In fact, the BJP may lose 3 seats to Congress as these 9 seats (and the assembly segments of parliamentary constituencies) were won by the BJP in 2012 assembly elections as well as in 2014 Parliamentary Elections.

Barring few bad patches, Modi’s government and its governance in Gujarat were remarkable, something that gave him the platform to raise aspirations of people across the country and an opportunity to stake claims to the Delhi’s office based on the promise to deliver them.

People were reeling under the pressure of the bad governance by the Congress party led United Progressive Alliance government, especially during its second term (2009-2014). The desperate urge to get rid of the UPA government find its refuge in Narendra Modi’s promises.

That gave the BJP and Narendra Modi an unprecedented victory, something unmatched in the recent political history of India, and a ‘possible’ option to enjoy the honeymoon period after assuming the office.

But the bye-election results say there was indeed no honeymoon period and the government was wrong if it thought so. Yes, nothing groundbreaking can be done in just four months, the groundbreaking efforts that India need to come out of the mess the UPA government had left it in.

But people are reacting. The voter is expressing his/her disagreement. And discussing the voter’s prerogative on the parameters of practical concerns of effective governance would be a futile exercise given the sociopolitical realities of India where majority of the people come from below-the-poverty-line and the lower middle class segments and find their lives engaged in the daily and monthly struggles to survive the increasing price-rise and other myriad of problems. Their day-to-day concerns are what matter for them and not the intricate matters of country’s fiscal health.

And majority of them are quality illiterate, we need to accept it. They are still swayed easily. That has been a major factor behind the BJP’s overwhelming victory with the party getting majority on its own. And this is something that is happening in these bye-elections as well, albeit on a reversed scale.

That would be and that should be in Narendra Modi’s mind. When he lands in Ahmedabad this evening, he must be thinking about the outcomes of these two bye-elections.

From an ordinary voter’s perspective, he has been voted in not for the BJP’s promises but for his legacy. And the outcomes must worry him.

The results of the August 21 bye-elections, held for 18 assembly constituencies spread across Bihar (10), Karnataka (3), Madhya Pradesh (3) and Punjab (2), were an unacceptable 8-18 for the BJP.

And the results of this round of bye-elections held on September 13 for three Lok Sabha constituencies and 32 assembly constituencies (Antagarh in Chhattigarh will be declared later) spread across 10 states should be even more unsettling for the BJP strategists.

The BJP had all of 11 seats (one with ally Apna Dal) in Uttar Pradesh where the bye-elections were held. It registered an impressive performance in all these assembly segments in the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was winner in 10. But in the September 13 polls, it is going to lose 9 while writing this. More importantly, the loss includes Uma Bharti’s constituency Charkhari that she vacated after winning the Jhansi Lok Sabha seat, and Rohaniya in Varanasi, prime minister Narendra Modi’s constituency. The seat was held by Apna Dal.

In Gujarat, as written above, it is trailing in 3 while writing this, and is expected to lose.

In Rajasthan, the party has lost 3 of the 4 seats elections were held for with almost confirmed trends. BJP had won all 4 seats in the previous polls.

Overall, the BJP and its allies had 25 out of the 32 seats (including Telugu Desham Party’s 1 in Andhra Pradesh) on the counting blocks today. While writing this, they are going to lose 15 of them today. The loss is huge, symbolically and electorally. The possible victory on a seat in West Bengal or the last minute changes in counting trends on some of these 15 seats are not going to help.

For the parliamentary constituencies, as expected, being the strongholds of political stalwarts like Narendra Modi, K Chandrasekhara Rao and Mulayam Singh Yadav, the outcomes followed the line. Vadodara was retained by the BJP. Medak went to Telangana Rashtra Samiti. And Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family got another of its member elected to the Parliament from Mainpuri.

From 25-7 out of 32 (or 26-7 out of 33, if we count Antagarh) to 10-22 (or 11-22, if we assume Antagarh goes to the BJP) today, after the 8-18 tally in August bye-elections, within four months of an unprecedented victory and overwhelming support to the Modi Factor, it is another wakeup call, and the warning signals are speaking aloud, especially before the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana the next month.

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

THE SHIV SENA SNUB TO THE BJP: THE CONTEXT OF IT

It was expected but it happened sooner than expected – the Shiv Sena snub to the Narendra Modi led National Democratic alliance government, just a day after the bye-election results were announce, may well be the beginning of the dilution of the perception that ‘this government intends to perform and is here for a long haul’, if left unchecked.

BJP failed to live up to the expectations in the bye-elections held in Bihar (10 assembly seats), Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka (3 seats each) and Punjab (2 seats) after its spectacular performance in the Lok Sabha elections this year.

It was an unacceptable 7 seats for the BJP. Its Punjab ally SAD won 1. Bihar, the biggest theatre this time with 10 seats in the election fray, and the centrestage of the debate on the ‘bye-elections being referendum on Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar-Lalu Yadav-Congress combine exercise’ certainly let down Narendra Modi and Bhartiya Janata Party because the BJP had performed exceeding well in these assembly segments in the Lok Sabha polls and had won 6 out of these 10 in the last assembly polls. And even these 4 wins are not convincing. The BJP could retain the Hajipur seat with a victory margin of just over 6000 votes while the winning vote margin in Banka was miserable 711 votes.

Even in other states, in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, the BJP lost its strongholds, Aagar in Madhya Pradesh and Bellary Rural in Karnataka.

Within three months of the May 16 jubilation, it is a pinching letdown, given a bigger bypoll is slated the next month and four major assembly polls are due in the subsequent months.

The May 16 outcome had given the BJP an overwhelming majority and, theoretically, it didn’t need support from any other ally of the alliance. Practically, it went with the alliance sharing the portfolios with the alliance partners in the council of ministers. Yes, but the ‘overwhelming majority’ reflected when it didn’t allow any bargain and parties like the Shiv Sena had to accept the portfolio allocated after initial protests and sulking.

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BYE-ELECTION RESULTS: WAKE-UP CALL FOR NARENDRA MODI

The Indian voter is getting increasingly demanding.

If it is not a total collapse, it is certainly a wake-up call.

The results of the bye-elections held in four states, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab, have come as an embarrassing development for the Narendra Modi led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

It is an unacceptable 8-18, unacceptable from the point of view of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) strategists who are busy writing off the Congress party and who are still basking in the glory of the overwhelming victory they scored in the Lok Sabha polls in May 2014.

Of the 18 seats, Congress and its allies won 10 while BJP won seven and its Punjab ally SAD one. BJP had performed exceedingly well in many of these assembly segments in the recently concluded General Elections. And BJP had performed exceedingly well in Bihar, bagging 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, with its allies. That was indeed a clear Narendra Modi effect.

Thus, in Bihar, the bypolls were being seen as the referendum on Narendra Modi’s governance and on Nitish Kumar’s governance, his political legacy in Bihar and his political alliance with Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

The BJP may rush to dismiss the results but given the way Modi led the BJP and the NDA in sweeping the nation on the electoral turf with a non-Congress party first time getting so many seats on its own, but any subsequent loss of his party will be seen in the context of his ‘performance on delivery of his promises of bringing the better days’ with questions raised on his governance.

The results declared today have come on a day when Narendra Modi’s government is completing its three months in office with its inaugural on May 26 and these three months have enough of his government’s fumbling blocks to talk about, something that the voter would never have expected to happen when voting for him.

The BJP may rush to dismiss the results as reaction on Modi’s government and may use the line of national Vs local issues, but doing so would be electorally harmful.

The warning signals for the Modi government have started surfacing and the government needs to assess them and work them out because these results also tell the voter is getting increasingly demanding.

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