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/

MODI-FACTOR VS MODI-WAVE

Personality wave in electoral battles basically follows personality cult. To be a personality cult there, there need to be a large scale uniform acceptability across a large geographical and sociological cross section of the poll-bound area.

If we follow this simple logic of common sense, we can easily say there was no Modi-wave in the recently concluded assembly polls in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Better than expected results in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh help the proponents of the Modi-wave theories but then Chhattisgarh and Delhi results, where BJP could hardly win in one and could emerge as the largest party but short of majority in other, defy their every logic.

It is true Narendra Modi did positively add to the BJP vote-share in these assembly polls but it was not a wave, it was the Modi-factor in play.

And there is a clear and visible distance, from Modi-factor to Modi-wave, to be travelled.

Personality waves in electoral events, if is there is really a personality wave, are very strong, strong enough to dwarf every other factor.

Had there been a Modi-wave, we would not have such a close fight in Chhattisgarh; we would not have a hung assembly in Delhi.

Had there been a Modi-wave, it could have easily countered and negated the sympathy wave that helped Congress in Bastar constituencies in Chhattisgarh after its top state leaders were killed in a Naxal attack there. 8 out of 12 assembly seats falling in that area went to the Congress party.

Had it been for a Modi-wave, we would not have a hung assembly outcome in Delhi. It could have easily replaced the Anna and AAP factor in being the primary claimants exploiting the huge anti-incumbency against the Congress-led governments, at Union and at State levels.

But that did not happen.

To dwarf such known factors and some unpredictable factors like the sympathy votes in Bastar, in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, Modi’s popularity needs to travel this distance, it there has to be a Modi-wave by the next April-May when the voters go out to vote to elect the next Union Government of India.

But in the prevailing political circumstances, even a Narendra Modi factor would be more than enough for the BJP to secure around 200 seats, a threshold that the party needs in order to command political allies to cross the 272 mark to prove majority in the House, if the BJP strategists could successfully align the Modi-factor along the huge nation-wide anti-incumbency against the Congress-led UPA government.

And so what is this Modi-factor. It is many sub-factors that make Narendra Modi the tallest political leader of the present political lot; that make Narendra Modi the most popular political leader in the country literally dwarfing all others; that make Narendra Modi an icon of development politics; that make Narendra Modi an experimenter and promoter of the identity-politics; factors that make Narendra Modi the absolute factor of the ‘politics of polarisation’ in India.

There are in-built positives and negatives with these Modi sub-factors. How these sub-factors are played out by BJP is going to the shape the effectiveness of the Modi-factor in the upcoming general elections; is going to write the equations for the party.

Yes, if there comes around a political scenario of BJP getting the absolute majority on its own, then we can safely call it’s a Modi-wave where positives and negatives don’t matter; where the cult of the personality becomes a phenomenon sweeping the mindsets.

Let’s watch to analyse.

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