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/

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/

THE ‘VERY REAL’ POLITICAL POSSIBILITIES IN BIHAR NOW..

Based on questionable and condemnable past credentials of Lalu Yadav-Rabri Devi regime of 15 years when Bihar had the RJD government – from 1990 to 2005 – termed Jungleraj by Nitish Kumar – and based on Nitish Kumar’s bitter relation with Lalu Yadav – that is just opportunistically suppressed at the moment (obviously, due to obvious political compulsions) – because we need to keep this in mind that Lalu had initially refused projecting Nitish Kumar as the chief-ministerial candidate of the alliance (read JDU-RJD-Congress-SP, as SP was then in the alliance) – and Nitish’s party has lost the tag of being the largest political party in Bihar assembly to Lalu’s RJD – a development that is ominous to Nitish’s style of politics – again based on the circumstances so far:

The JDU-RJD-Congress government would run smoothly: Now, this is the least likely scenario. But if it happens, it will be smoothest thing Bihar’s electorate can expect – provided Nitish Kumar finds himself free to run the government and Lalu, who cannot contest polls and cannot take any political office, as he is a convict in the fodder scam, will put his energy more in his and his family’s political revival.

It will become the RJD-JDU-Congress combine: Lalu, being the numero-uno of RJD may exact his price, making Nitish Kumar a follower and not a trendsetter. After all, if Lalu walks out, Nitish’s government will collapse – if Nitish doesn’t agree to compromise.

Nitish is most likely to have his deputy from RJD or from Lalu’s family and important ministers as well. Lalu will weigh heavily in governance decisions and Nitish will face trouble in taking decisions freely, like he has been taking so far, and in reining in the bad elements associated with RJD, the senior partner in the government.

In this case, Bihar can soon expect another round of assembly polls – if any one of the parties walks out of the alliance – again based on their own reasoning – that would, in turn, be based on their political revival of the past.

Nitish can split RJD: Now it is a known fact that RJD has no face but Lalu Yadav. His both sons are novice and his daughter Misa has no political experience. As Lalu cannot take any political position, it would be best for him to stick to the routine and let Nitish do his work. Otherwise, Nitish can easily split RJD to get the numbers to run his government, in case his ties with his Lalu sour. A party with mass no leader than Lalu, who is barred from taking office, would be an easy target to lure its members – in the name of accessibility to the power corridors.

Or it can be a JDU-BJP combine again: We all know the cliché of Indian politics – that there are no permanent friends or foes in politics – and going by the account of the long years of JDU-BJP alliance, there is no reason to think these parties cannot come together again – especially when Nitish would feel suffocated to run the government of JDU-RJD combine.

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

WHY IT IS NOT NITISH KUMAR’S WIN?

India won but Bihar lost yesterday.‪

Nitish Kumar may have scored a self-goal against ‪Narendra Modi but he is actually the biggest loser with ‪RJD emerging as the largest party – and with him the people of ‪Bihar.

JDU was always the largest political party in the Bihar assembly post Lalu-Rabri regime – but now the baton has changed hands – and it is now with Lalu Prasad Yadav – yesterday onwards.

And in spite of all the high hopes, the future looks scary – what if Lalu’s presence in the governance causes the same old malaise to return again?

Nitish and Lalu trace their origins to the same tree but Nitish took a different political streak to emerge as Lalu Prasad Yadav’s sworn enemy in Bihar politics – the sworn enemy that has been Nitish’s ‘friend of convenience’ for quite some time now – the ‘friend-turned-foe-turned-friend’ who was initially adamant on ‘not accepting Nitish’s projection as the chief-ministerial candidate of JDU-RJD-Congress alliance’.

Now, that ‘friend-turned-foe-turned-friend’ is Nitish Kumar’s big brother in Bihar’s politics – and he gave enough indications of it during the presser held last afternoon after the results. Not so long ago, everyone was busy writing political obituary of Lalu – and bang! – he is back in the game now – with a bang.

Well, Lalu, being convicted in the fodder scam, is legally barred from electoral politics and political office and his party RJD has no mass leaders except him – and that is the most plausible reason to make him go smoothly with Nitish – otherwise Nitish can easily split his party, a valid possibility – but that doesn’t take care of political necessities of the day to day politics – that doesn’t take care of the bad elements that have long been associated with RJD’s politics in Bihar – a system that Nitish Kumar famously used to term ‘Jungleraj’.

Even if Bihar was not on some highway of development, especially during Nitish’s second term, he really did bring fundamental and positive changes in Bihar’s governance and for that reason, he remains the undisputed CM choice of Bihar, but the numerical key of the government is with ‘big brother’ Lalu now.

With RJD lording over JDU, the threat of going back to the dark days of Lalu-Rabri regime are quite real. Nitish has this tough task of managing a difficult and unprincipled alliance with Lalu’s party and we hope he succeeds or else, we will soon have another round of assembly polls in Bihar.

Or would some sense prevail on Lalu’s style of politics now??

Or can there be political developments that will lead us to see another round of JDU-BJP bonhomie?

That is in future, but for now, Lalu Prasad Yadav has emerged as the only winner in these Bihar assembly polls.

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

MAJOR FACTORS BEHIND JDU-RJD-CONGRESS ALLIANCE WIN IN BIHAR POLLS

More of a BJP’s loss than Nitish Kumar’s win (or basically Lalu Yadav’s win): BJP is paying heavily – for not relying on local leadership of Bihar – for centralising power unnecessarily in party’s central leadership – for running a negative campaign and not focusing on development – for engaging in war of words and below the belt comments that Lalu Yadav did with much more efficiency the result proved.

A consolidated votebank against BJP: The anti-BJP alliance could successfully stop swing of its votes and could consolidate them further to transfer within the alliance. In the end, the alliance’s 44.6% vote share tells it was miles ahead to the BJP alliance’s 34.1%. A negative and personality oriented campaign (both by and against) did further consolidate the alliance’s votebank together. It also showed an effective alliance based on caste equations can effectively take on BJP if it remains intact. The OBC-Yadav-Muslim combine this time did exceedingly well for the grand alliance while BJP’s stand on issues like reservation and intolerance hurt its prospects deeply here.

Anti-reservation – anti-Dalit: Mohan Bhagwat’s comments about reservation, it seems, have gone deep in the psyche of masses. Even if RSS’ website prominently figures Bhagwat’s clarification on his ‘reservation’ remarks, the public, it seems, have refused to buy it. Another remark by the union minister V K Singh on Dalit lynching incident of a Faridabad village, drawing an ill-conceived ‘dog’ analogy, seems to have dented the prospects further.

Taking opposition not seriously: Now it seems so – as BJP has emerged as the party with the largest vote share. While Nitish and Lalu focused on ground level campaigning connecting more people – with small gatherings in large numbers – BJP still relied on technology to reach ‘virtually’ to the masses – that could not penetrate in the psyche of masses driven by compulsions and preferences of an assembly election. All BJP’s star campaigners were outsiders – Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Arun Jaitely, Rajnath Singh – and that seems to have backfired in a cleverly crafted and fought ‘Bihari Vs Bahari’ campaign by Nitish Kumar. Most of the Bihar BJP leaders were absent even from campaign publicity hoardings, banners and posters. The tech savvy team of Amit Shah could not match the intensive ground level connect of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav who held over 200 rallies each.

Also, BJP had no match for popularity of Nitish Kumar as the chief-ministerial candidate. Though Nitish has failed to perform like he could during his first full five-year term, he still was its undisputed development-oriented leader, and so there was no significant anti-incumbency against him. What helped him more was the fact the BJP was his alliance partner in the power corridors of Patna till June 2013 when Nitish broke the alliance over differences on projecting Narendra Modi as the prime-ministerial nominee of the alliance in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

It was like the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 when there was no national leader to scale the popularity of Narendra Modi as the prime-ministerial candidate on different rating scales. And it happened so in Delhi with Arvind Kejriwal being there. But BJP could not learn its lessons. The other assembly elections that it won or performed well after the grand performance in the Lok Sabha elections last year had huge waves of anti-incumbency against the ruling parties and chief-ministers – in Maharashtra, in Jharkhand, in Haryana, in Jammu & Kashmir. Though Nitish did not emerge as the real winner, with RJD emerging as the largest party in the Bihar assembly with 80 seats, 9 more than Nitish’s JDU, the JDU-RJD-Congress alliance fought the election projecting Nitish Kumar as its leader.

Too much of tolerance Vs intolerance: Yes, the debate has engulfed the nation’s consciousness. True, we are a tolerant nation, a resilient one. But equally true is the fact there has been spate of intolerant activities from the fringe groups and from the voices within the ruling party and groups associated with it. BJP needs to think seriously about this problem now – about its loudmouth leaders and about practices like politics around cow and other religious notions. While the educated and middles classes were left in bad taste about such incidents – like the government’s attitude on FTII row and Gajendra Chauhan issue, on beef politics, on cow slaughter, on Dadri lynching, on ‘Ghar Wapasi’ and so on – the Muslim voters, who are around 15% in Bihar, and who could never trust BJP, ensured that they work to defeat BJP by voting en masse, not succumbing to the agenda based campaigning by likes of Owaisis.

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

WHY BJP LOST BIHAR POLLS?

AND WHAT IT TELLS ABOUT INDIA’S POLITICS IN THESE TIMES..

The second round in the political turf war between Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar goes to Nitish Kumar and in an equally emphatic way as was Narendra Modi’s and BJP’s victory in the Lok Sabha election last year.

BJP and Nitish Kumar’s JDU were long terms partners and shared power together in Bihar for over 8 years before Nitish parted ways in the name of ‘BJP becoming Narendra Modi’s BJP’.

It was the second election (barring bypolls) that the two political outfits fought as rivals and with this, JDU has equaled the score 1-1.

But what it tells about political state of affairs now?

Given the fact that the broad issues that the Bihar elections were pinned on revolved around caste, religion and community arithmetic, the outcome of the polls become interesting for how they would affect the further political discourse in the country on some issues doing rounds in the national consciousness.

— The poll result will, first of all, tell vehemently that the Delhi poll debacle was not an aberration but was a clear indication of things and days to come – an ominous signal which was conveniently ignored by BJP.

— The most worrying socio-political aspect of it is that the country is indeed going through a rough patch with real threat of communal and caste-based flare-ups if the fringe elements and intolerant voices are not reined in now.

— The message will be that people are not taking developments like FTII row or appointments to other institutions, JNU row, reservation policy row or the move to return national awards by eminent personalities to protest the surge in incidents of intolerance or the ongoing legacy wars to claim legacies of the political luminaries from the country’s past.

— After Delhi, the Bihar polls are again a direct testimony on BJP’s performance. The message is that the NDA government, so far, has failed to perform effectively on its promises of governance and development. BJP lost even in Jayapur in Panchayat polls, a village adopted by Narendra Modi in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi. It will further reinforce the demand that people need concrete development now, not even a blueprint will do. There are valid questions even in Varanasi now where the city has seen no significant development in the last 18 months or so. Developments like making Banaras Hindu University a greater mess that it was earlier in, go squarely to the union government of BJP in Delhi.

— Narendra Modi now needs to do some serious thinking about his political branding and imagery, given the fact that the Bihar assembly election was basically a direct personal fight between Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar from JDU. Nitish had left the JDU-BJP alliance in Bihar on NDA’s projection of Narendra Modi as its prime-ministerial candidate and had stepped down after JDU’s crushing defeat in the Lok Sabha election last year. Also, it is not about other BJP leaders but about Narendra Modi. People have given BJP absolute majority because of Narendra Modi and Narendra Modi will obviously be worried about his political legacy.

— We can soon see Shiv Sena walking out of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra. The alliance has been in consistent controversies ever since the two old alliance partners came together again last year. Shiv Sena, the big brother-turned-humiliated-junior partner in Maharashtra is freshly recharged from its gains in Maharashtra civic polls, the first big shot post Maharashtra assembly polls in 2014, the polls in which BJP has performed poorly. The ongoing war of words between Uddhav Thakeray, the Shiv Sena chief, and Devendra Fadnavis, the Maharashtra chief minister, may precipitate into something big soon.

— The outcome makes it mandatory for BJP to do course correction with its politics, especially in the light of the upcoming assembly elections in Punjab (2016) and Uttar Pradesh (2017) – with realizations and changed requirements post the debacle in the Bihar assembly polls.

— BJP’s alliance with SAD in Punjab is not so smooth and the party has lost every subsequent election in UP after the grand show in the Lok Sabha election in May 2014. If we go by the projections and different analytical reports so far, we can say Congress is going to win the next round of polls in Punjab and

— In UP, BJP still has no mass political leader and cadre. This is a space that the party has failed to populate so far, especially in the context that it had the grand opportunity to do so with the sky-high confidence that it got with the absolute show there in the last year’s parliamentary polls – winning 71 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats. And the Bihar assembly polls results tell why the party needs to focus on poll infrastructure at the ground level and development politics while effectively controlling the ‘fringe and intolerant voices’ – because once the UP is lost in 2017 – it will be a moral doom for the party to make a comeback in the 2019 parliamentary polls.

— And that goes with the socio-political imperative of the day that there will be more protests and intensified attacks on BJP and the NDA government on ‘politics around cow and religion’ about these ‘fringe voices spewing venom of intolerance in an otherwise resiliently tolerant Indian society’.

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