The discontent was telling. And it was the ‘most’ popular sentiment in the just concluded elections.

In Maharashtra, the ruling NCP-Congress combine was in government for 15 years, the last three terms. And like the political dispensation has been in India so far, even if it bring some development, it is riddled with corruption and allegations of corruption, as we saw in case of Sheila Dikshit’s government in Delhi. Sheila was Delhi’s chief minister for three terms, for 15 years.

Her government’s track record on development was good, but was not free of corruption. And as the terms went on, from five years, to ten years, to fifteen years, the governance got riddled with more and more allegations of mammoth levels of corruption. Yes, the Delhi that we see today, that can claim substantial development during her terms, kept on oiling the wheels of corruption as well, that put even her under the scanner.

And Maharashtra could not claim even of this front – development (with corruption).

Coupled with political arrogance and insensitivity reflecting in political statements on issues of social relevance, the lack of development or rather the lack of balanced development created heaps of anti-incumbency against the ruling coalition government.

Then there were ‘popular’ measures adding to the anti-incumbency, the discontent, like verbose talks even if Vidarbha farm suicides continued unabated, like a chief minister on a Taj Hotel tour with a filmmaker just after the 26/11 terror strike, like the continued Maratha Vs Non-Maratha rants, like the consistently bad show of vital social indicators, like the Maratha reservation card and so on. The list seems pretty long.

The discontent had brewed to its full ‘ripeness’.

Similar is the story of Haryana.

A Congress ruled state for 10 years had a family sort of rule, of the Hooda family, a Jat leader from Rohtak who never crossed the ‘culturally backward Haryana’ line on social evils like Khap dictats and honour killings, a Jat leader whose rule was basically focused on Jat dominated areas of Haryana, in and around his city Rohtak, who, as well, played the reservation card, a Jat leader, who like other politicians, and in typical Congress fashion, promoted interests of his family, his clan and the families of his party members first. Allegations of widespread misappropriations in recruitments were common and even the civil services were not left out.

And the Hooda government even bungled the case of Gurgaon, the once dubbed Millennium City of India that is increasingly being identified as a concrete jungle with unplanned development on social indicators and a city of horrible crime rates.

Also, the associated corruption that came with its lucrative real estate dealings did not leave even the first political family of India. Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra is facing allegations of corruption and misappropriation in land deals and former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is facing allegations of going out of the way and mending rulebooks to help clear the Vadra land deals.

And naturally, these are not the standalone cases where allegations have erupted. There are many on the lines of nepotism, casteism and regionalism spread over the last 10 years – a perfect recipe for sky-high discontent.

And so, the anti-incumbency built was huge and saw its desperate way out in the Modi Factor, as in Maharashtra, in the promises made by Narendra Modi, in the day he has been able to add to the development of Gujarat, a state Modi ruled for over around 14 years, a good enough stretch of time to let the discontent and the associated anti-incumbency creep in. But, anti-incumbency has never been an electoral factor all through the Narendra Modi’s tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat.

The huge anti-incumbency reflected in the higher turnouts as well – highest ever in Haryana with 76% voting and 64% in Maharashtra, fourth highest ever and 5% more than 2009 assembly elections – a measure of increasing ‘popular discontent’ against the ruling establishment.


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


Though NCP has announced unconditional outside support to BJP for forming the government in Maharashtra, when Narendra Modi addressed NCP as ‘naturally corrupt party’ during campaigning in the run-up to the assembly polls, it was not without reasons.

Many high level politicians from NCP and Congress have been facing allegations of corruption and many had to resign. The list includes chief minister and deputy chief minister besides many other ministers and politicians.

The nation cannot easily forget the ‘forced resignation’, a hastily brought whitepaper to declare Ajit Pawar clean in the irrigation scam and his ‘reinstatement’. It was all in bad taste.

And the 15 years of NCP-Congress combine rule had no dearth of such newsmaking headlines going deep on follow-ups.

Every year, if thousands of farmers are forced to commit suicide, in a so-called prosperous and industrialized state, Maharashtra, and if the state sees huge scams like the irrigation scam worth 70,000 crore, nothing but political corruption is to be blamed.

Similar was the case in Haryana.

A chief minister belonging to the main opposition party was out on bail sighting health reasons. He was jailed after found guilty in a recruitment scam. He misused the terms of his bail to campaign in the polls and was sent again to jail by the high court.

The last chief minister was alleged of mammoth scales of corruption, though nothing proved yet. Family biases and nepotism ran deep in Haryana. And it is not always necessary that court verdicts drive the sentiments. In electoral politics, it is all about perceptions and the perception that corruption was running deep in Haryana had made deeper inroads in the psyche.

The nation cannot easily forget the largesse shown to Robert Vadra and the witch-hunting against an honest official, Ahok Khema, for taking on Robert Vadra because he found his case violating norms. The Hooda government went out of the way in clearing the deal for Vadra the nation saw it. And the nation also saw how defiantly the previous chief minister defended his acts perceived to be wrong and corrupt by the common man, the common man who sent him packing in the just concluded elections.

Allegations of widespread corruption and nepotism in Haryana civil services are a regular feature to decorate the news headlines. Then there were case studies like Gopal Goyal Kanda.

And the electors were watching, in Maharashtra and Haryana, waiting for a chance, that they saw in promises of Narendra Modi, to bring the politics of development back on track, and to deal with political corruption.

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


Narendra Modi didn’t campaign (or intensively campaigned) in the bye-elections held after BJP’s high voltage performance in the Lok Sabha election 2014 that made it the first party to get majority on its own after 1985.

And BJP languished in these bye-elections – first in Uttarakhand, then in four states including Bihar, and then in 9 states including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal.

The negative talking points against BJP’s performance simply outnumbered the few positives that it gained in these bye-elections with the later two important bypolls seen and analysed as ‘acid test’ or ‘semi final’ or ‘test of the Modi Wave’ before the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir and Jharkhand.

And BJP failed in these ‘semi-final’ sort of tests. Bypoll verdicts gave voices to everyone. Congress, JDU, Samajwadi Party, RJD, Shiv Sena, and other parties and the leaders of these outfits. They took on BJP with their customized reasons.

But the undercurrent was – assembly polls were different than parliamentary elections and BJP needed its allies. And the favourite talking point of the opponents was – Modi Wave was receding or had gone away, especially after poor show in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar bypolls.

But did Narendra Modi and the Modi Wave fail?

No. The Maharashtra and Haryana poll verdicts say so.

Modi campaigned extensively in these assembly polls, inviting sarcastic remarks from his opponents and allies that he should have stayed focused on delivering in Delhi. But Modi, in his workaholic work style, stayed focused on delivering his speeches reaching out to the electorate. And he promised what was his central plank during the Lok Sabha poll campaigning.

And BJP has registered historic victories in Harayana and Maharashtra assembly polls today.

It is to be seen in the context that BJP had no major political figure in these two states and the party had contested without projecting any chief-ministerial candidates. The central theme of campaigning was Narendra Modi. The party asked for votes in Narendra Modi’s name. And Narendra Modi was there, to establish direct contact. He exploited well the supporting but vital factors like anti-incumbency, government corruption and poor governance.

The analysis into the voting trends shows it has been like the Lok Sabha elections, beyond the boundaries of caste and regional considerations – voting in the name of the politics of development.

Electorate in the Lok Sabha elections bought what Modi promised and voters in these two assembly polls have once again expressed their faith in Modi and like the Lok Sabha elections, even in Maharashtra and Haryana, the ground earned by BJP was much beyond the BJP’s claim in these two states based on the party’s political history.

The verdicts today re-establish the Modi Wave discourse as the central theme of political analyses on upcoming elections, Jammu & Kashmir and Jharkhand.

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


Factors at play: Huge anti-incumbency + Ruling Party/Alliance Corruption + Modi Wave/Modi Factor + Promises of Developmental Politics.

Narendra Modi didn’t campaign in bypolls: BJP languished. Modi campaigned extensively in assembly polls, inviting sarcastic remarks from his opponents and allies that he should have stayed focused on delivering in Delhi: BJP registers historic victories in Harayana and Maharashtra. It re-establishes the Modi Wave discourse as the central theme of political analyses on upcoming elections, Jammu & Kashmir and Jharkhand.

Maharashtra verdict: It was also about realignment of political affiliations and alliances in Maharashtra with new realities and changed circumstances and BJP has emerged as the clear winner. Parties contesting on their own to realize their political grounds – it had become politically imperative after decades of fighting together in alliances. It was to happen, sooner or later. But no Pankaja Munde or anyone like her, with being the daughter or son of a top politician as the only qualification, as the claimant of chief minister’s chair please. In absence of an acceptable face to all, BJP may decide on Nitin Gadkari.

Out of NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena, the biggest setback goes to Shiv Sena. It is the biggest loser in spite of registering growth, in seats and in vote share. Many in the party would be rightly thinking now, that just for 5 seats, they lost the ‘senior ally’ in Maharashtra tag, and that too, by a huge margin. Yes, they are the second largest party in Maharashtra assembly but their 63 seats are nowhere near to BJP’s 122 seats, given the fact that BJP had been acting as the junior partner of Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and was ready to do so even this time, agreeing to contest on lesser number of seats than Shiv Sena in the failed seat-sharing talks.

The one ‘glorious’ highlight of the Maharashtra verdict – MNS and politics of hatred has been rejected. No glory for Raj Thackeray and his brand of politics. In fact, the whole Bal Thackeray clan deserves it if the family members don’t change their ways. Bravo Maharahstra voters. Jai ho Marathi Manoos.

Also, the Hooda government wipe-out in Haryana was long overdue. Its arrogance and corruption was reeking nepotism and anti-democratic practices. There was an absolute family rule with the clan coming first in exploiting the state’s resources. It was even cordially extended to a member of yet another ‘first family’ in Delhi. But, will the BJP led government reinstate the pride and position of honest officials like Ashok Khemka? Remain sceptical and take it with a spoon of salt given the controversy surrounding AIIMS whistleblower Sanjiv Chaturvedi’s removal.

The country would see more of BJP’s ‘walk alone’ strategy in upcoming polls after its unprecedented performance in Maharashtra and Haryana. In Haryana, from 2009 to 2014, the party scaled up its show from 4 to 47 seats winning the majority while contesting alone. In Maharashtra, though there were some small parties in alliance, it was largely about BJP. Contesting under the shadow of Shiv Sena for decades, the party stumped all emerging as the largest party. In fact, it is after 1990 that any party has win over 100 seats in Maharashtra and that party is BJP. It would certainly bolster Narendra Modi and Amit Shah who prefer to contest alone or on their own terms and talk emphatically of clear majority in electoral politics.

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


All this was expected, waiting to happen, and as the time was running out, today was the day, when it had to happen, as the last day of filing nominations for the October 15 Maharashtra assembly election is just on the day after tomorrow, on September 27, a day when prime minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly during his much talked about official America trip.

The four major political parties of Maharashtra, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Shiv Sena and Bhartiya Janata Party, are going to contest the upcoming assembly polls separately (as of now).

We had two pressers today, by the BJP and the NCP, announcing the split. Representatives of both the parties said they tried hard to save the alliance. Likewise was the reaction from their ’till the last moment’ alliance partners.

The Mahayuti is no longer existent (as of now). The Congress-NCP Combine had its life till today.

Anyway, there is nothing much to read into that. After Congress’ humiliating loss and miserable strength in the Lok Sabha elections and the BJP’s stupendous (and unexpectedly overwhelming) show, it was written all over.

Sharad Pawar had issued warning to its senior partner immediately after the May 16 General Elections results that Congress needed to accept the reality and had to give more space to the NCP now. Though the BJP did not issue such explicit warnings, the messages and the feelers were always sent out. Congress’ two Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra were half of the NCP’s four while the BJP was five seats ahead of Shiv Sena’s 18 MPs. Also, nationally, the party had won majority on its own.

It was also that there were emphatic voices in all the camps against breaking the alliances. The issue being dragged for so long tells us. While writing this, Congress is reacting on with its presser being addressed by the Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan while Shiv Sena is expected to come with its formal response tomorrow.

There are already talks of further alliances and deals. Political theories and hypotheses are going to be the high talking points. But that will be tomorrow onwards (including the possibilities of reversals, if any!).

There were many who, in all the four political outfits, were thinking to test the waters separately after long periods of alliances. NCP-Congress alliance was 15 years old while Shiv Sena-BJP combine has had history of a quarter of Century with it.

Fighting polls together for so many years kept them away from assessing their power and their influence separately on their constituencies across the state. It was hard to say who wielded what influence across the state. It had become difficult for them to assess their situation in terms of real political growth; in terms of gaining and expanding the political ground.

Traditionally, as Congress and Shiv Sena were the senior partners of their respective alliances and had larger presence and a long history in the state, the assessment was not so imperative for them. But it could never have been so with the NCP and the BJP.

Though, the NCP was formed from the breakaway faction of Maharashtra Congress by Sharad Pawar, a major political figure in the state, its beginning was not smooth and the party was forced to join hands with Congress in the very first year, when the Combine had its first government in 1999. The Shiv Sena-BJP Combine has failed to form the government after 1995.

The status quo was maintainable as long as the status remained more or less unchanged – circumstances predicting continuation of the Congress-NCP government.

That was not so this time. Every survey predicted overwhelming victory for the Shiv Sena-BJP combine quoting the Modi Wave being the major factor after BJP emerging with more seats and an impressive performance in the state. The natural corollary to it was the doomed fate for Congress, an electoral rout, like it had in the Lok Sabha elections. So, the senior partners were no longer in the positions to claim their political seniority in the state.

And these equations gave the BJP and the NCP the leveraging power to bargain to have more seats to contest in the elections as well as the aspirations to go solo to assess and realize their own political ground.

As the bargaining could not come with the results expected, the voices advocating the ‘going solo’ mantra grew more and more demanding, and it ultimately got the upper hand today when the BJP and the NCP, one after the other, announced to walk out of their respective coalitions.

So, it’s an open political sky and a free electoral battleground in Maharashtra tomorrow onwards. And it has the potential of throwing in some U-turns.

It’s going to be interesting, for the Pundits, and for the observers.

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


Yesterday, in a desperate effort, intended to score points of the votebank appeasement politics, like its character has been/has become, the grand old party of India having its origin in late 19th Century, the Congress party, did what was expected from it.

And in doing so, not learning lessons from the recent poll drubbings, they tell us they are yet to go into some serious thinking mode on what led them to this historic low. Yes, the loss was written and widely analysed but no one could gauge it was going to be so humiliating.

The assembly polls in the state are due later this year and the Maharashtra government, led by the Congress-NCP combine, is in imminent danger of losing its hold on the state power corridors as well. In the recently held Lok Sabha polls, the ruling combine could win only 6 seats out of 48.

And instead of putting serious thoughts into ‘whys’ of this political gloom for them to address the ‘real’ issues before the polls, they are still busy in devising cosmetic measures hoping they would be able to tackle the sky-high anti-incumbency, somehow, like the Congress led UPA government in Centre had ‘envisioned’.

And proposing reservation quota for the targeted votebanks has been among the most practiced cosmetic measures of the Congress party in the recent political history of India, irrespective of the fact it has failed to deliver most of the times.

Maharashtra government today proposed 16% reservation for Maratha people and 5% for Muslims. It is nothing but a poll sop, to go to these votebanks, claiming their right on the votes ‘in lieu of’ this largesse that is going to remain on papers.

Tomorrow, some PIL will be filed and the High Court will give stay order as has been the case in many other such cases, where states breach the 50% reservation ceiling. Also, the Indian Constitution is clear that reservation cannot be given on religious basis. And no one can say how this ‘Maratha reservation card’ is going to play, in courts, and in the electoral arena.

Even the politicians proposing the reservation quota in such arbitrary ways realize it but being politicians, they don’t care. They just need some talking points to exploit the electoral sentiments.

In the recent political history, every such political attempt by the Congress party has backfired. Attempts to introduce the Muslim reservation (before assembly and Lok Sabha polls) have been blocked by the Supreme Court regularly and have not translated into electoral victories for the Congress party. Giving minority status to Jains was just a filler, a symbolic step, never important electorally, but it was yet another window into the pre-poll mentality of the Congress party. Another electoral ploy of giving reservation to Jats just before the Lok Sabha polls proved a dud. The poll results showed the Jats voted for the BJP, in Haryana, in Rajasthan and in Western Uttar Pradesh.

And yet, they don’t change. No lessons learnt yet. No efforts to learn lessons yet.

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